KINGSTON, Dec. 17 (JIS): Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Hon. Anthony Hylton, has echoed concerns that some retailers are failing to pass on oil price savings to customers and has pledged to address the issue.
Mr. Hylton argued that for the last few months, the price of oil has been falling on the global market, from as high as US$110 per barrel to about US$55. Yet, this reduction is not reflected in the prices of local goods.
“I want to really decry what has been a long-standing practice here in Jamaica among certain marketers and producers….when oil prices rise and things go up, we’re told that this is the law of economics, but when the price falls, we have only a creeping return and that’s called business,” he stated.
Mr. Hylton, who was delivering the keynote address at the Small Businesses Association of Jamaica’s annual Christmas luncheon on Wednesday (December 17), at the Knutsford Court hotel in New Kingston, deemed the practice as “unfair.”
“In this new period, we cannot continue to abide by these practices. It cannot be fair that for the last four months, the price of oil has been falling internationally… and yet our retailers have been very slow in reducing the price to consumers,” he stressed.
Mr. Hylton said the consistent decline over the period is “sufficient time for retailers to receive the signal that what is emerging in the global economy is a new normal.”
The Industry Minister, who has portfolio responsibility for the Consumer Affairs Commission and the Fair Trading Commission, said he has met with representatives from both agencies to discuss the matter.
“I’m expecting that the Fair Trading Commission, along with the Consumer Affairs Commission, will be giving immediate and special focus on examining why the price reductions have been as limited as they have been and why retailers and the marketing companies continue this practice,” he stated.