NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamas Price Control Commission chairman Danny Sumner has slammed what he called ‘disgraceful’ and ‘unacceptable’ price gouging amid fears over the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Sumner suggested that prices on items such as Lysol and hand sanitizer had been marked up as much as 30-50 percent in some cases.
The country recorded its first confirmed case of COVID-19 – a 61-year-old Bahamian woman – on Sunday, and consumers have flocked to stores and pharmacies for disinfectant supplies.
Eyewitness News reported two weeks ago that local stores and pharmacies were selling out of hand sanitizers.
Sumner said: “We have a number of complaints coming in from Nassau, the family islands and Grand Bahama. This trend started about two weeks ago. I have personally been visiting stores in New Providence and questioning the price hikes in Lysol products, alcohol, hand sanitizers etc. Some prices have been marked up 30-50 percent.
“I even visited the wholesale supplier who supplies these items to many of the smaller shops to verify the prices of these items and the prices are ridiculously high in some instances.”
He continued: “We are doing some thorough investigations. We are looking at the stores that complaints were made against. If we have concrete evidence of these mark ups we will submit that information to the Minister of Labour and Consumer Affairs who I am sure will look into it and where warranted initiate court action.
“It’s disgraceful and there is no need for that. Many people are hurting for basic food items and to go mark up the price on things needed to basic health and hygiene is unacceptable.”
Jeffrey Beckles, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) chief executive told Eyewitness News that the private sector representative condemns price gouging.
“Anytime we have a situation like this there are going to be people who do not abide by law,” he said.
“It is the inhumanity to man. We condemn that kind of conduct and encourage all businesses to be mindful we are in a crisis and there is a reasonable way to behave. It is critical to who we are and how we get through this. We want people to report this kind of thing.”