Outspoken Bahamas Union of Teachers’ Belinda Wilson was on island this past a Thursday, in another portfolio. She is a member of the Price Control Commission ,and, travelled to Grand Bahama along with Commission Chairman Danny Sumner and other colleagues to participate in random price control initiative along with local inspectors, including Reno Smith, Chief Price Inspector here on the island.
Wilson, noted for a no-nonsense attitude, emphasized the importance of the checks, in conjunction with local inspectors and the focus on impacting what the “common man” pays for groceries.
“As Board Members, we are not just here alone. We are here with the price inspectors who reside in Grand Bahama. We come out with them so that we could look at the prices that are in the stores, in particular breadbasket items.
“We are also looking at VAT items, to ensure that the prices are in keeping with the rule of the law is. For me, it is a learning experience. We did it last year in Exuma and we are doing it here. In serving on this Board, I really want to be able to impact the bottom line grocery bill for the common man; the poor man. That is what I am about. Any infractions in the stores, the price inspectors will definitely bring it to the attention of management.
“We are still working with the government to extend the breadbasket list because, the mothers in families, they must feed the children and the price of food is very, very high,” noted Wilson.
Questioned further on how the discussion is progressing between the board and the government, with respect to the extension of breadbasket items, she expressed optimism.,
“Our Board has had training. We have sent in our recommendations to the substantive minister. We now have a new chairman because our former Chairman, Synida Dorsett, passed. She had sent in recommendations previously and Mr. (Daniel) Sumner now has recommitted to reinforce and reiterate the importance of those breakbasket items and to really look at pricing in general.
“I am hopeful and optimistic. We have to impress upon the Minister of Labour (Hon. Dion Foulkes) and by extension the Minister of Health (Hon. Dr. Duane Sands) and the government, that they must bring that legislation to parliament, so that we can have those breadbasket items included and even extended.
“When we talk about being a healthier nation then we must look at the fruits and vegetables. A mother needs to be able prepare a plate for her children that has the nutritional value, that is needed for their bodies, their growth and their development. I will be the stickler on the board as usual.”
Wilson added that the board members are also interested in terms and conditions of service, and having the equipment needed in order to perform their jobs effectively.
Sumner also shared some of the aspects about the random price checks that will be made with stores and merchants throughout the island.
“All items in any store should have the price marked on them. I was in a food store in New Providence on Wednesday (July 17) and I told the manager to ensure that when the consumers pick up an article, they know exactly what the price is. Sometimes, they pick up an article, and they may think the price is what they are looking at, but when they go to the cashier and the cashier scans it, it is a different price. That is an offense.
“Placing articles with the wrong descriptive label is also an offense. Proper labeling and proper pricing must be placed on each item, to identify what you are paying for, rather than going to the cashier and paying for something that you did not want,” said Sumner.
Holding the title of Chairman of The Price Control Commission for a little over two months, Sumner added: “Significantly, I have been to one island where I encountered two infractions. That island, I will be dealing with in short order.
“In addition to the pricing in the food stores, we are also responsible for the gasoline at the service stations. We will be checking those gasoline prices too. We are aware that some gas pumps have inflated prices as well. We will also be looking into that. That is also a serious matter. Cooking gas, we check that as well,” he pointed out.
He explained as well that “pricing carries a long weight in determining what one eats, how much fuel you are able to put into your vehicle, all of that comes under our unit. We have a big responsibility.
He informed that Grand Bahama was a priority at this time, but the checks will continue throughout the country.