Published On: Mon, Apr 8th, 2019

WIFOL President calls on Government to be proactive

Theophilus Thompson - Facebook pic

PHILIPSBURG — Government needs to be proactive instead of reactive to stem the high cost of services, goods and labor since the passage of the hurricanes of 2017. “We have seen the house rents, food commodities and cost of housing skyrocket to astronomical prices,” said the president of WIFOL Theophilus Thompson.

He mentioned that the cost of living has risen to at least 200% while income/wages remain the same and in some cases it has declined. He explained that in a capitalist system it is designed in such a way that advantage is taken, opportunities are looked at where there could be an increase in capital or income from those who are in control of the system.

He said the initiative by banks to give grace periods to persons with loans and mortgages were welcome following the storms in 2017, but on the other hand insurance companies have increased their premiums as much as 200%. “I do not know if there are any regulations on insurance companies but something needs to be done,” he said.

He noted that at the St. Maarten Medical Center there is a “tight control” on tariffs which has initiated a huge debate. He mentioned that with regard to food commodities there is no control on it since there seem to have no physical inspectors who visit the food establishments.

In other areas the cost for services have tripled and even though we have a duty free status, it should not hinder or prevent the importers to do as they please since there isn’t “a vibrant Customs department.” Every importer of goods and commodities should hand over their invoices so as to determine the cost of the goods. With that information available government has the ability determine the prices.

He noted that in some cases there are commodities that are controllable which has fixed sale prices based on the type of goods. It was stated that there is need for “an adaptable Customs department” that is trained in our specific situation on the island since there should not be a change to the duty free status.  He explained that in most cases, basic food commodities vary from one food establishment to the other which should not be accepted.

He called on government to protect the masses by acquiring relevant information through surveys to accurately determine the situation and make proper decisions on the way forward.

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