Supermarkets: basic basket is “a communist policy”

POSTED: 08/24/11 5:47 PM

WILLEMSTAD — Supermarket Association Suvecu criticizes the maximum price policy pursued by Minister Abdul Nasser El Hakim of Economic Development. El Hakim does not keep his promises, says chairman Joel da Silva Gois. The Minister, Suvecu and Fundashon pa Konsumidó met last Thursday.

The Makuto básiko (Basic basket) currently contains thirteen food products, namely bread, sugar, baby food, coffee, corn flour, canned milk, margarine, salted fish, rice, butter, edible oil, tea and salted meat. The number of products for which a maximum price applies as determined by the government, can be adjusted every six months. This way, the price remains ‘up to date’ in relation to market developments. At first, the products are determined in dialogue with dieticians of the Area Health Authority, not only to stimulate a healthy gastronomic style amongst the people but also to make the products available to a larger public.
According to El Hakim, entrepreneurs are not to suffer from the price policy. Nevertheless, the owners of supermarkets complain about the policy. According to Da Silva Gois, the stakeholders had no say in the makeup of the new basic basket. The association complains about the low profit margins. “If the Minister sticks to this list, Curacao will experience the same situation as in Venezuela where only 50% of the shelves are filled. We cannot sell any products if we do not make a profit on them,” says Da Silva Gois. “Electricity has become more expensive. Moreover, we have to pay our employees. Without a profit it will be difficult to fulfill our obligations,” says the owner of wholesale business Goisco. He describes the price policy as ‘communist’.
The supermarket owners believe adding fresh vegetables and fruit is not feasible either. According to Da Silva Gois, these products are perishable. “At the end of the day, we have to throw away many fresh products. The waste with vegetables and fruit is enormous – not to mention the daily price-fluctuation of these products on the world market.”
Suvecu wants Minister El Hakim to set up a committee before the Council of Ministers adopts the adjusted list of products with a maximum price – as promised. According to Suvecu, the committee will consist of representatives from Suvecu, Fundashon pa Konsumidó, importers and officials. The committee will study the profit margin on products, the selection of products, the best way to implement this, changes on the market and legislation relevant to the adjusted basic basket.

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