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Consumers still struggle with costs


CONSUMERS faced with inflationary costs say they are doing their best to cope.

The Tribune yesterday canvassed buzzing grocery stories where shoppers expressed concerns over the continued inflation and the government’s lack of inflation relief, while others said they had no complaints.

Part-time University of The Bahamas professor Natasha Turnquest, who teaches political economy at the university, said she forecasts the continued rise in food prices after hearing of the Russian attack on Ukraine.

She spoke to this newspaper at Solomon’s Fresh Market where she was picking up a few grocery items.

“Based on the dynamics,” Ms Turnquest said, “Ukraine is one of the major exporters not only of sunflower oil but of wheat. So, I said obviously, if you’re going to have a major disruption of one of your major sources of grain, which is the basis of bread, you’re going to have a rise in prices. I said, mark my words, in about 30 days, a month to six weeks, the price of bread is going to go up. And within that time the price of bread went up. So, when you see things happening, you have to try and anticipate and prepare.”

She added that while the government may be doing their best, sometimes a radical change is needed to affect those below the poverty line.

“People always will complain, but you have to figure out what are the immediate needs. So, my thing would be to try to find a radical way to just reduce the cost of one or two items that everybody uses everyday. Just focus on bread. People will then see the change and could eat the change. They are able to say, ‘OK, I could buy two loaves of bread now instead of a half of a loaf’ and that’s a reality, and we only could do the best that we can. We can only do our best.”

Kym Gilbert, a local nail technician and mother, who was shopping at the Centerville Food Store shared similar sentiments.

Ms Gilbert added that while she refuses to let the rising food and gas prices due to inflation cause her to have added stress and worries, most Bahamians cannot avoid the negative effects of rising food prices.

She said: “Even bread basket items, the most important things, the prices are ridiculous, yes. But what can you do? I am not about to stress myself, so I just roll with it. But they (Mr Roberts and the government) really should be considerate of the lower income homes. I don’t worry about it. I keep it moving. It is what it is.”

However, another consumer, 44-year-old P Ophelia Sherman, who was shopping at Super Value said that she understood why the prices are rising and will continue to rise and insisted that Bahamians can solve some of the issues that arise from inflation through natural means.

“I empathise with people who have children and who have a large family, but I understand why it keeps going up, because we’re an open economy,” Ms Sherman said. “I don’t know if they’re doing like myself, I do gardening and stuff. You can complain if you have a fixed income, but the thing is we have an open economy and we import everything, so when you import it’s a trickle effect. We grow sufficient things whereby we can make a dent. We grow our own bananas, pumpkin, potatoes cassavas, things like that. But you have a lot of people over here that don’t even want to eat that anymore.”

Oscar Moss, another Super Value shopper, also had no complaints about the inflation of food prices.

Mr Moss said: “I don’t have any complaints, because I do home gardening myself. Years ago, we used to plant everything. I grew up with my parents and grandparents grazing stuff. My grandfather had pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, you know. I grow sweet peppers and lettuce, my wife and I grow them, because we grew up like that. In my yard right now I have about five or six bunches of bananas. That’s what we need to get back to,” he said.

Last week, the All Items Index for June 2022 report from the Bahamas National Statistical Institute (BNSI) showed that there is a 6.2 percent rise in food prices in The Bahamas, compared to the same period last year.

In April, the Davis administration asked for suggestions from consumers on what to lower duty on to help mitigate the cost of living crisis and inflation.

At the time, the major concern was the price of chicken and eggs; slashing chicken import tariffs from 30 percent to 10 percent and with eggs falling from 30 to five percent. Other items which saw big percentage cuts of 10-30 percent or complete elimination of tariffs this past July included protein powder, flours of vegetable base, prepared beef, pork and turkey, raw ground nuts (peanuts), prepared salmon, herring and caviar.