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Abaco Chamber: Islands feeling pinch amid food price hikes

As residents on New Providence grapple with rising food prices in grocery stores, Abaco Chamber of Commerce President Daphne DeGregory-Miaoulis said residents on that island and other Family Islands are feeling the pinch even harder.

DeGregory-Maoulis said although the Christmas season is traditionally a highly anticipated revenue boost for most businesses, with tighter price control margins, higher electricity bills, looming increases in the minimum wage in early 2023, and already high fuel prices, many businesses on Abaco are anxious.

“It’s going to be a very tough period and it’s going to be a juggle, where people are going to have to make the decision on whether to pay the bills that need to be paid, or spend the money frivolously. It’s a very anxious period, there’s no two ways about it,” she told Guardian Business.

“Businesses I’m sure are not anticipating a very good Christmas season in an environment where people are still trying to repair their homes. It is really quite depressing.”

Reflecting on the upheaval in the retail sector on New Providence earlier this week, when price control inspectors were sent to various grocery stores to double check that prices were in line with the government’s recently expanded price control list and breadbasket items, DeGregory-Miaoulis said businesses feel stuck between a rock and a hard place.

“Business people don’t have a chance to catch themselves,” she said.

“I don’t think anybody is happy about the higher prices, they’re actually very anxious about how much more the 

prices are going to increase. Add to that the cost of imports and this new third party requirement for imports that the brokers have to go through, which is actually going to bring another cost as well. It’s very frustrating, it’s the holiday season, the Christmas season.”

The Abaco Chamber president urged the Davis administration to be more interactive with business leaders and take a broader consultative approach before making such impactful policy changes.

As for consumers, DeGregory-Miaoulis said given the challenges ahead with a continuation of inflation into the new year, Bahamians must be mindful of spending.

“Spending is going to put a lot of stress and pressure on people, we are a consumer population and everyone wants to buy, when we really should be conserving,” she said.

“In December and going into January 2023, it’s going to be very difficult for a lot of people.”