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Mar 13, 2020

Price Gouging Amid Coronavirus Threat

As we said, Belize is yet to record its first case of coronavirus and while many are preparing for its advent on our shores, there are some business owners who are already profiteering from the cost of hand sanitizers and tissue.  A quick look on grocery store shelves earlier today shows that the prices of hand sanitizers and other hygiene products have skyrocketed, prompting the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry to issue a release asking its members to refrain from price gouging.  While cost of these items is not regulated by the Belize Bureau of Standards, Prime Minister Dean Barrow says that tariffs have been removed in imported items, including hand sanitizers and other related products.  Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade will move promptly to include those products on the list of controlled items.


Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Where we are is in a bad place, at least in terms of some sections of humanity.  You would think that recognizing that this is an impending national crisis, even merchants.  Well I shouldn’t say merchants, less that sounds derogatory, that merchants would understand that they too have to cooperate in the national effort.  So I pour scorn on the fact that there is price gouging taking place.  Two things: as I said, we’re going to take off the duties on things like hand sanitizers and things like essential stuff related, even if some removed, to the possible advent of the disease.  Number two, the Ministry of Trade is looking at how to put hand sanitizers on the price control list so that the gouging can be stopped.  That we’d have to do as quickly as we can, but together with the removal of the duties hopefully that will alleviate the problem.”

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