I’m old enough to remember the global economic recession of the 1980s and Lord Relator’s hit calypso ‘Food Prices’—which highlighted the ridiculous prices.
Trinbagonians, have you noticed that food and consumer prices have risen astronomically? The cost of living has spiralled dramatically since the onset of Covid-19 due mainly to the calculated actions of business owners, who boldfacedly raise the prices on essential goods with no subtlety, contrition or guilt.
It could be argued that, in the early days of the pandemic, there were shortages and panic buying and demand outweighed supply. But there is no excuse now to exploit the situation, because any sustained increase in food prices will have a negative impact on citizens—which could lead to crime and social unrest as people become desperate.
Supermarkets, groceries, hardwares, market vendors, taxi drivers, and even retail stores have significantly increased their prices, even as people are losing their jobs.
Yes, I can hear people saying that won’t happen in sweet Trinbago! I just want to remind people that 1990 was not a mirage or apparition and social unrest is usually attributed to food scarcity or an increase in food prices, which adds to the hardships of people already living below the poverty line.
It’s a fact that lower-income households generally spend more money on food. So any increase in food prices would inevitably have a significant impact on the standard of living of such households.
President Paula-Mae Weekes described such unscrupulous activity as ‘vulgar profiteering’. According to International Labour Organization (ILO) ‘rising food prices and job losses triggered by the pandemic have the potential to undermine progress towards sustainable development goals’.
The business owners are sticking their thumbs into the eyes of consumers by hurting the wellbeing of the lower class and, to some extent, persons in the middle bracket in order to keep their bottom line in the black.
So while we are complying with the public health ordinance so we can return to some kind of normalcy, we must be mindful of our brethren who are ‘ketching dey tail’ to keep their jobs and to put food on the table for their families.