Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon says she has been getting reports of price gouging in the aftermath of recent floods in parts of the country.
“It’s the expected thing,” she said in an interview on CNC3’s Business Watch on Wednesday.
“Usually when you have a crisis and particularly when you’ve had extensive floods as we’ve seen over the last few days...whilst there are those who are being very generous, there are those who are taking the opportunity to increase prices beyond which is fair.”
Gopee-Scoon said recent price increases have primarily revolved around poultry and appliances.
Weighing in on the issue, T&T Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) CEO, Dr Ramesh Ramdeen said manufacturers have been subsidizing their offerings to distributors and retailers, in addition to donating free items.
“People being who they are, they are trying to take advantage of the situation and they are marking up the prices at the retail level,” he said.
Ramdeen said there have even been reports of people raising the price of water but he pointed out that the manufacturers are not to blame, as some of them have been donating the water as part of the relief effort.
Supermarket Association of T&T (SATT) president Rajiv Diptee added: “I have personally been in touch with most of my membership and we have experienced no distortions in retail pricing, especially on the side of bottled water.”
He said SATT members had joined forces for relief drives after the flooding. Diptee said reports of price gouging were the result of social media “fuelling circulation of these hypes.”
When asked if she has received any reports of price gouging activity connected to supermarkets, Paula Gopee-Scoon denied receiving such information, adding, “I think the incidents of these practices have really been few and far between and much less than the generosity displayed by businesses.”
Diptee added that supermarkets are expecting increases in price because “where there is flood damage there are associated costs.”
However, Gopee-Scoon responded: “Most of the poultry producers have been unaffected by the floods. In poultry there should be absolutely no increases in prices.”