Unhealthy food could cost more as price protection is removed

Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands.

Despite failing to remove value-added tax (VAT) from breadbasket items as promised, the Minnis administration intends to remove price protection from “the deadliest grocery items”, Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands said during a town hall meeting on Thursday.

Dr. Sands addressed meeting attendees at the T.G Glover Primary School yesterday evening, which was aimed at garnering public opinion on grocery items that make up the national breadbasket – items that are protected by the Price Control Commission (PCC).

“The idea is that you cannot eliminate choice but, you can make the choice easier and less expensive,” Dr. Sands said.

“This administration has said we will eliminate value-added tax (VAT) from bread basket items and we have not done that as yet …we have not moved away from commitment.”

Though small in numbers, participants appeared to be very concerned about not only the price of breadbasket items but its value to one’s health.

Dr. Sands revealed that items including sugar, corned beef, canned soup, margarine and mayonnaise will be removed from the list and healthier options including beans and peas, raw almonds, oatmeal and root crop, will be included.

“We acknowledge that there are many people struggling to pay their food bill and, the fact that price control is on the deadliest items that exists, we feel is this program is a timeliest imitative,” he said.

The health minister also noted that some of the current items of the breadbasket list are “as Bahamian as motherhood.”

“Take corned beef for example. [It is] very high in salt content… we are not saying that it won’t be available. We are just saying that it should not have a price protection.”

Town meetings are expected to continue for the next few weeks across the country.

Dr. Sands said it is hoped that the changes to the cost of breadbasket items can be implemented by the next fiscal budget.