Commerce Minister Reassures Public Amid Concerns Over Panic Buying

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Amid panic buying concerns, Commerce Minister Emma Hippolyte has reassured the public that the government has received commitments from all parties that they will work with the government to continue supplying goods and services.

Hippolyte, also responsible for Manufacturing, Business Development, Cooperatives, and Consumer Affairs, was addressing parliament on Tuesday.

In this regard, she dismissed false social media voice notes claiming that the rise in fuel prices had grounded ships, which would result in scarcities of goods.

Instead, the Minister explained that fuel hikes increase freight costs, impacting the final cost of consumer goods.

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But she said she was aware of a number of detractors’ spreading false information and causing panic buying.

Observing the need to control the situation, Hippolyte said the government had received commitments  from ‘all parties’ to work with the government to supply goods and services to the people of Saint Lucia.

She disclosed that the commitments came from distributors, manufacturers, service providers, retailers, supermarket operators, bakers, and grocery shop operators.

“Mr. Speaker I wish to place on record that those businesses are themselves providing these services to the public at reduced profits,” she noted.

“In some cases at great cost and inconvenience to themselves and today I want to publicly thank them for their shared sacrifice,” the Soufriere MP stated.

She reiterated the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) pledge during the last election campaign and after coming to power of putting the people first.

Hippolyte said the government continues subsidising cooking gas, bread, and some basic food items.

“Ensuring that the gas that is purchased that there is no profit or no excess taxes are being used by the government,” the Minister explained.

And Hippolyte indicated that the government was providing a cushion to make life easier for people.

At the same time, she called on citizens to adjust their consumption patterns and look to grow what they eat and eat what they produce.

“I am convinced that if we continue along this path of collaboration, partnership, shared sacrifice an national strategic re-focussing, we will emerge from this crisis a stronger and better country,” Hippolyte told parliament.

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