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Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Hon. Karl Samuda, has said that the use of the Consumer Alert publication is an effective medium of keeping consumers informed, so as to exercise greater intelligence in their purchasing decisions.
Speaking at a press briefing last week at the Ministry’s offices in New Kingston, the Minister pointed out that the bi-weekly publication of food and petrol prices is an example of the Government’s efforts to educate consumers on the best prices across the country.
“Consumer Alert is attractive and informative and there are people who are actually using it to select the gas stations or entities based on what is published. The publication assists shoppers, as it identifies the actual areas where the supermarkets are located and can identify the products that are being sold for the best prices,” Mr. Samuda explained.
He added that the use of the Consumer Alert, “is a way of empowering the consumer and that is what we seek to do by arming that consumer with information.”
The Minister noted that the prices of certain basic food items have stabilised and there has been a “contraction of the difference between the lowest and highest prices.”
He said that several stores are quite mindful of the report and attend to their businesses in light of what is published.
“They (business owners) do not know whether or not their stores are going to be published and they do not know what items are going to be published and so, they do not get into a routine where they can predict, so there is this element of surprise where they wake up every Thursday morning, every two weeks and see how they perform,” Mr. Samuda pointed out.
“The only way to protect the consumers is to arm them with information and we are not going to relent on this strategy. So, whenever the items you supply are higher than your competitors, you must be prepared to understand that you will be identified, in order to give the consumer a chance to get the best price,” the Minister said.
He added that from the publication, suppliers must examine their own internal operations, to determine whether or not they are exercising all prudent measures to ensure that they are competitive.
“This is a very competitive world and this is a world in which consumers are under stress and pressure, and anything at all that I can do as Minister to relieve that pressure, I will do it as long as it is within the law,” Mr. Samuda affirmed.