By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The Price Control Commission’s (PCC) chairman yesterday said some “leading supermarkets” will be included in its report to the Government on pre-Irma ‘price gouging’.
Syndia Dorsett said the Commission expects to have a comprehensive report ready today relative to complaints of ‘price gouging’ ahead of the storm.
She was speaking after Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, while addressing Parliament yesterday, said “several individuals and supermarkets” have been referred to the Attorney General’s Office over ‘price gouging’ allegations.
When contacted by Tribune Business, Ms Dorsett said: “We are doing a comprehensive report on it as right now, and it should be ready by Thursday. We are putting everything together so that we will have a good idea as to the number of stores and what the items were involved. We are preparing that list right now.”
She added that some “leading supermarkets”, and hardware companies selling lumber and hurricane-related supplies, were included on the list. Ms Dorsett said the Commission had also paid attention to damaged and expired goods on store shelves, and items that may have been marked-up exorbitantly even though they were not under price control.
None of the companies set for inclusion on the list were named.
The Government had warned ahead of Irma that ‘price gouging’, and similar schemes to spike prices, were considered “criminal offences”. It also advised retailers and wholesalers against “hoarding” items for “speculation” or “profiteering” and marking up.
Dr Minnis had instructed the Price Control Commission to monitor the prices being charged for items such as breadbasket food, medical and prescription drug supplies, and hurricane preparedness items such as plywood and nails.
The Prime Minister and Price Control Commission’s findings contrast with the Chamber of Commerce, which said it had not received a single complaint about pre-Irma ‘price gouging’.
Edison Sumner, its chief executive, told Tribune Business that in the absence of any complaints the private sector organisation could only conclude that there was “minimal, if any, price gouging” occurring pre-Irma.
“We haven’t received any complaints through the Chamber, even though we talked publicly about it,” he told Tribune Business. “We’ve not received any complaints, formally or otherwise.
“I’ve not received any calls, and the Chamber has not received any calls on price gouging. We know they [the Commissions] were monitoring it, but as far as we’re concerned - and based on the information provided to the Chamber - we had minimal, if any price gouging.
“If there was, no one made any reports to the Chamber. I’m not saying it didn’t happen, but it wasn’t reported to us. I do intend to reach out to Philip Beneby, chair of the Consumer Protection Commission, and they can perhaps enlighten us further about reported price gouging and let us know who those culprits are.”