BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, July 26, 2023 (SKNIS) – The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis continues to monitor the cost of living and rising food prices and is actively seeking additional solutions to these concerns.
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew, addressed the issues of the cost of living and rising food prices during an appearance on Freedom FM’s Issues programme today, Wednesday, July 26, 2023.
Prime Minister Dr. Drew told the listening and viewing public that the Government has introduced a number of relief measures and has since formed a Cost of Living Taskforce that will continue to monitor the situation.
He said, “We met also with the traders such as RAMS, O.D. Brisbane etcetera to have a discussion on the cost of food and what was relayed to us is that it is not just about the food itself but the brands, as certain brands cost more. I spoke with the Director of RAMS…and he sent me a list of the cost of branded stuff compared to those that are not branded and there is a significant difference, so people do have some level of choice. Nonetheless, one has to acknowledge that there has been an increase in food prices as a result of the pandemic, supply chains, transportation costs because of fuel and so forth and that has affected all countries in the world and that has affected St. Kitts and Nevis as well.”
Prime Minister Dr. Drew reminded the nation, however, that the Government has since implemented a number of critical measures to keep food prices down as much as possible.
“We have capped freight to make sure that the transportation of food is at the lowest cost and if we have to cap it more, we will cap it more. We have also capped gasoline so that transportation costs of food across the island would not be extremely expensive and also to make sure that our people can commute without an excessively high cost of gasoline, and so, the Government has taken a hit in order to make sure that our people have access to affordable gasoline,” Dr. Drew said.
Freight charges for 20-foot and 40-foot dry food and cold storage containers have been capped at the 2019 pre-COVID rates, while the temporary reduction in the Excise Tax from $2.25 per gallon to $0.95 per gallon has been extended until December 31, 2023.
As the Government continues to explore additional measures to bring about relief, Prime Minister Dr. Drew is encouraging citizens and residents to “look at alternative brands which can help a dollar to go further.”
He added, “I want to encourage people to grow some of your food in your yards because this can help you to save. For example, over the COVID period, I took care of my banana trees and so forth and was able to have bananas. So, we have to also do our part to deal with the cost of living and the cost of food.”
Prime Minister Dr. Drew said the Government, through the task force, will continue to engage with all relevant stakeholders as part of its holistic approach to addressing the matter.