PRESIDENT OF the Supermarket Association of TT Rajiv Diptee is calling on citizens to report supermarkets with exorbitant prices on hygiene products and disinfectants in light of the growing concerns of covid19 in Trinidad.
He is encouraging consumers to make the report to the Consumer Affairs Division.
He told Newsday on Friday, “There will be opportunistic persons trying to cash-in on the plight of the public but we want to make sure in general regular pricing can be accessed.”
TT confirmed its first case of the virus on Thursday.
Diptee said he had asked suppliers to “hold their hands” on a price increase this soon. “There is an indication that prices may go up and this is not from our side this is from the supplier side.”
While the association doesn’t encourage exorbitant prices, he said, if people are willing to pay a certain price then that it is at their discretion.
“The hard reality is where there is sanctity there are higher prices, that is why it has to be a responsible handshake between suppliers and supermarkets to ensure there are a pricing consistency and reliability across the board.”
The panic buying continued on Friday as many supermarkets report a stampede of buyers purchasing sanitisers, antibacterial wipes, water and toilet papers. At several pharmacies on Charlotte Street, on Friday, people were seen buying boxes of vitamin C.
Hand sanitisers are out of stock and water and toilet paper are being purchased in large amounts. He said warehouses have enough stock for a month and more stock should arrive in TT at the end of March. People are also bulk-buying non-perishable food items.
“People are buying a ridiculous amount of toilet paper and what is not available right now they are trying to get in by the end of the month.”
Diptee continued, “The reality is we don’t want to encourage panic buying but it is happening regardless. We are observing that toiletries and sanitisers are in high demand, these items are the subject of a shortage and it isn’t unique this is a worldwide shortage.”
Minister of National Security Stuart Young asked citizens not to panic but there was a stampede of shoppers at supermarkets across TT purchasing sanitizers and toiletries.
Newsday checked a few banks downtown Port of Spain on Friday where employees operated as usual. Only some bank tellers were seen wearing rubber gloves.
In a media release, the Bankers Association of TT (BATT) said it has been monitoring the global and regional developments of covid19.
BATT is advising customers to reduce in-branch transactions and encouraging the use of e-banking, telebanking, and ATMs in light of the growing concerns.
The association said it will continue to do so with heightened awareness following the announcement of TT’s first covid19 case.
BATT said, “The banks have increased their internal cleaning protocol and have made the required sanitary provisions at each bank.
“BATT wishes to reassure customers that banks are taking steps to protect its staff and customers, as far as possible, from inadvertently contracting and or spreading the virus, as they access banking services throughout the country.”
BATT is also encouraging customers not to visit any banks if they have symptoms of the virus.