THE PRIME Minister has said food prices are not the worst they could be.
He was speaking Thursday at the Finance Ministry's Spotlight on Budget 2020 at the Radisson Hotel, Port of Spain.
He said there is a lot of talk about agriculture but most people who talk about it want nothing to do with it, neither farming the land nor eating local produce.
"Our diet is still largely imported salt, fat, grease, sugar, pre-packaged (food)."
He said local farmers say they want higher prices, while the consumers want a lower price, and this is balanced by demand and supply.
Dr Rowley said the country can improve in the area of food prices and by policy Government has decided some of the resources in the public sector that are grossly underutilised could be made available to the private sector, and the output would improve the food supply.
He said with inflation at 1.2 per cent the prices of food today are not the worst that they could be.
"And a lot of what is driving food prices in TT is import price creep. And consumers are going to be encouraged to be more discerning, because some of the prices that we meet in the marketplace for imported produce are unjustified."
Rowley said only transparency will determine what prices are justified and unjustified, "and I think that is where Government is going to go as we improve consumerism in TT so that we can get the best value for money."
He said government in the past tried to supply food itself, through the Central Marketing Agency, and it was a "disaster,"
"That is not the solution to the problem of food prices. The solution is: produce what we can locally, eat what we produce, be discerning on importation and of course be responsible at the personal level. Those are the things that will contribute."