Despite a statement from Chief Secretary Farley Augustine that Tobagonians pay more for basic food items, the evidence suggests otherwise.
Speaking on January 24 at the Viewport Supermarket in Tobago, Augustine said there needs to be a discussion on the disparity between the cost of living between both islands.
“We need to discuss why the cost of goods in Trinidad is significantly cheaper than in Tobago,” he said.
With a shopping list of some basic food items and given what was available on the shelves yesterday, Guardian Media sought to compare the prices between the Xtra Food Supermarket in Trinidad and Cost Cutters in Tobago.
It showed that with the exception of milk, every other food item was cheaper in Tobago.
And the Supermarket Association of Trinidad and Tobago (SATT) says their data says the same.
“Our investigation shows that the prices are very much the same, Tobago people should have no worries when it comes to discrimination and stigmatisation with respect to food prices,” said SATT president Rajiv Diptee who was present at the Viewport Supermarket when Augustine made the claim.
Diptee said following that event the SATT did do its research and were satisfied with their findings. He called it a non-issue in that regard.
Diptee said the Consumer Affairs Division does a price comparison on its website and that shows the prices between both islands are almost the same.
The SATT president said the Chief Secretary’s statement may be linked with the current political climate on the island.
“I think that Tobago is in a period of transition both at a level of governance and the pandemic, right now social issues are sensitive both in Trinidad and Tobago and it’s important we don’t amplify these perceptions to create issues,” he said.
Diptee said several suppliers have also set up shop in Tobago, lessening the dependency on Trinidad for stock.
Meanwhile, the Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce said the perception that Tobago’s prices are higher is an old one.
“That is a long-time perception, that is a long-time story, over the years to be fair to the business community in Trinidad, there was a proposal which was done and Trinidad agreed in most instances where Tobago would enjoy the same prices as the Trinidad business owner and the shipping costs in most instances were absorbed,” said president Diane Hadad.
Hadad said that work was done almost 20 years ago.
“Many people do comment on the fact that they come here and find prices are either equal or a little less than the Trinidad market,” she added.