Consumer Affairs actively monitoring Food Prices

Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS) — The Consumer Affairs Department in collaboration with the Inland Revenue Department and Customs and Excise Department are actively working to ensure the true benefits of the VAT removal are realized by residents.

As of today, April 7, 2015, consumers will see the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on all foods, medicine and funeral expenses.

Over the past months, Consumer Affairs officers have been collecting pricing data for all food items sold within supermarkets, which is being used to create a comprehensive benchmark database that will facilitate the tracking of movements [in the prices of goods] before and after April 7.

Officials in the Consumer Affairs Department have revealed that, as customary, there will be random inspections of the price of items within supermarkets and other food retail outlets. These items will be checked within the point of sale system of the establishment, to ascertain that VAT is not factored into the price of food items. The Department has ensured that there will be regular checks. Prices of all food items are expected to fall by 17 percent starting today.

Any business that does not pass on the intended VAT relief to consumers, will be referred to the Inland Revenue Department and the Customs Department for appropriate action.

Another area to be rigorously monitored by the Consumer Affairs Department would be the retail and wholesale mark-ups which are being placed on items laid out in Statutory Rules and Order No. 41 of the Price Control Order, 2007. These items are also classified as the “Food Basket” and are made up of 23 food descriptions which include frozen chicken, frozen meats, Vienna sausage and pasta products.

All items on this Price Control Order attract a retail price mark-up of 25 percent for frozen goods and 20 percent for dried goods. Consumer Affairs will be monitoring to make sure that in the shoppers’ interest, VAT is indeed removed before the mark-up is applied to the items.

Persons who notice significant increases in the prices of food items are asked to call the Consumer Affairs Department at 467-1616.

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