Government’s Christmas “gift to the nation” is a 20 per cent reduction for two days in the price of rice, flour and soya bean oil.
The discounts are applicable only on National Flour Mills (NFM) products.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced the measure at yesterday’s post-Cabinet news conference at her St Clair office, saying that it was aimed at bringing greater financial ease, relief and joy to citizens over the holiday season.
The specific items to benefit from the price cut are:
1. Flour (two kilos)—Ibis, Lotus, Good and Natural, Cuisine and Hibiscus
2. Flour (ten kilos)—Ibis, Lotus, Club Select and Hibiscus
3. Soya bean oil—all sizes of Lotus soya bean oil
4. Rice—Lotus parboiled rice.
The Prime Minister said the price “rebate” on these three staples would apply during the two busiest shopping days of the year- December 23 and 24. She said the rebate was arranged as a result of collaboration among the Minister of Trade, NFM and retailers nationwide.
According to Persad-Bissessar, “a renewed and revigorated” Consumer Affairs Division would be out in the field to ensure that the benefit is passed on to the consumer. The Prime Minister said the measure would in no way compromise NFM as it was expected that the increase in sales would offset any shortfall that would come as a result of the reduction. “And further should there be a shortfall that is greater than the compensation Government would take up the shortfall,” she said.
Noting that in this season of goodwill and cheer, “this people- centred Government” had treated 50,000 children so far, the Prime Minister said: “We ask that you accept this as a heartfelt gesture from your Government towards making your Christmas both brighter and happier”.
Minister of Trade Vasant Bharath said the rebates would apply to all rice, flour and soya bean oil purchased from NFM by retailers during the period December 16 to 24. He said the rebate would be given based on sales which took place during the two-day period of December 23 and 24. He said the Consumer Affairs Division would be out in full force monitoring the pre-reduction prices and the post-reduction prices.
Bharath also said Government would be running advertisements to alert the population to the price reduction in these items. He said he had already spoken with the President of the Supermarkets Association to brief him about what Government intends to do. He added that the Government was asking the population to be vigilant and insist on the price levels when they are not being achieved or to not purchase from those supermarkets which fail to implement the 20 per cent cut.
He said Government considered adding breads, cakes etc and other items to the rebate list but added that when one factored in the percentage of flour, rice and oil used in the finished product like roti, kiss cakes or biscuits, it represented a far lower saving to the end user.
“For example a cake from Kiss, the saving to the consumer would not be 20 per cent because there are so many other components that go into making a cake. And so the percentage saving to the consumer might only be two, three,four, or five per cent. And we (the Government) don’t consider those to be basic items that would really assist the householder for that two day period (December 23 and 24),” he said. He added that the price reduction did not extend to industrial users.
Bharath said 2013 would be one of the best years for NFM, which was expected to virtually double its profits over the last 12 months because of the restructuring of the organisation and the new focus of the board and management.
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