Shoppers are saying that some supermarkets across the country are using the COVID-19 killer virus to increase their prices on certain basic foodstuff after Dr Keith Rowley made a surprise announcement together with some other restructions, that all non-essential businesses will as of midnight on March 29.
This came about after the country recorded its first coronavirus death and 61 people were tested positive. At the time of writing, the figure has since risen to eight deaths and 105 people tested positive for the virus.
The PM also asked citizens to stay home in a bid to stop the spread of the dreaded disease and he added, “if you don’t, both police officers and soldiers will be enforcing the law”.
He mentioned that supermarkets, groceries, pharmacies, doctors’ offices, hardware stores, bakeries and restaurants will remain open only for take-away service.
Now all those restaurants and take away service outlets like KFC, Pizza as well as Chinese food outlets will have to close until April 30th. Rowley said people now have to cook food at home.
Shoppers have observed that the prices of rice, flour, saltfish, smoke herring, imported oil, sugar, corned beef, garlic, potatoes among other imported foodstuff – will go sky high when new stocks come in. Supermarket owners are saying that garlic, which comes from China, will go up by 200 percent. Even pluck shop operators have jacked up their prices as a four pound chicken is now costing close go $60 and a small “bird” $50.
Some poor people are saying that the additional $150 on their $410 food cards and households with four or five people which will collect an additional $300 is not of any big help.
Many persons feel those increases may have influenced supermarket owners to push up their prices since the same basket of food that cost $500 is now costing $900.
People using their food cards are now spending double the amount they used to spend before.
One major Trincity importer of rice and other products said 15 containers of imported rice were sold out in a week’s time.
Currently his warehouse is empty and he has had to order more stocks but it has become difficult to do since he has been put in a queue for foreign exchange to pay for his goods.
He said there is a possibility of a shortage of imported foodstuff in the coming in the weeks.
Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said there will be foreign exchange of US$100 million available to importers and manufacturers.
But some importers are saying that money is just a drop in the bucket for importers.
Although the rum shops are closed Ramsingh and his rum posse have stocked up on their alcohol so that they have their rum available to make an “at-home” lime.
Last week the lime was at Balkie’s home but it was only Ramsingh, Barman, Dougla, and Rasta who took up the offer for a cook up and to drink some puncheon rum.
Balkie’s wife prepared some curry duck and dhalpuri for his friends to make sure they had something to eat. When they arrived at Balkie’s home there was not the usual shaking of hands because of the fear of the spread of the coronavirus. They each gave him and his wife a bounce.
Balkie: “Boy ah see allyuh following d COVID-19 protocols not to shake hands but if you wearing gloves ah feel yuh can shake hands.”
Dougla: “Balkie, ah see yuh using a big word protocol, boy. We learning ah lot ah big words these days to use when Deyalsingh talking bout d killer virus at his daily press conference. Ah hear he call d name of ah drug which he telling people not to use. D name of d drug is so long dat ah all a remember is cloro something and hydro somewhat.”
Ramsingh: “ Doh take on Deyalsingh, nah, he playing doctor because he is ah pharmacist. He doh let d Chief Medical Officer Dr Parasaram answer dem reporters questions he does just bypass him and say ah will handle this question. Deyalsingh done tell him to be careful of the questions he go answer dem reporters. Ah was watching CNN reporters questioning US President Donald Trump in a press briefing and one ah dem ask him if he playing doctor because he want to try a drug which is used for malaria, which has not yet been approved and he replied, he is not ah doctor but he has common sense.”
Dougla: “Since ah have to stay home now ah watch TV more than when ah used to drink rum. Ah was watching dat interview with Trump last Sunday night and yuh know it have ah doctor who does be on d panel at his side but Trump decided to answer d medical questions. D doctor say he is not in support of d drug. Yuh know dem reporters does ask serious questions not like dem OJT journalists we have in dis country.”
Rasta: “Yuh right Deyalsingh does want to answer all d questions to show Rowley dat he can handle dis virus problem. He doh like to give out information. All he does say dat is patient confidentiality. But ah see on TV all over d world who are some of d people who get the virus but in meh own country everything is patient confidentiality. Even d British Prime Minister say he have d killer virus and he checking in at a hospital. Yuh think if Rowley, Deyalsingh and Young get d virus dey go say so?”
Ramsingh: “Ah see Rowley now using the bible and quoting passages to deal with d virus. But dat eh go help him. He too wicked because he does talk down to people and call tantie Kamla all kinds ah bad names. God doh like ugly, nah.”
Until next week.