Customers at Hassanali’s ‘D” Green Shed in Debe wait in line.

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Incensed that the price of doubles had increased by $1 although the Government had removed VAT on several basic food items, several customers refused to buy doubles at Hassanali’s Green Shed in Debe yesterday after hearing that doubles had risen to $6.

Aloo pies with channa also sold for $6.50. Both items were previously sold at $5.

“It is ridiculous. I went to Hassanali’s and they increased the price of doubles by one dollar. They charging an extra fifty cents for channa. I am not buying doubles for $6 and alloo pie with channa for $6.50,” Neeranjan Barban declared as he walked away.

Guardian Media checked the price of doubles in South Trinidad and it varied from $2 to $6 although the price of oil has become cheaper with the removal of VAT.

A spokesperson at Hassanali’s refused to explain the price hike, however, saying, “Nobody can bash me for raising my price.”

But other vendors along the Debe strip, including Hosein’s Indian Delicacies and Singh’s, kept their original price at $5. Krishna’s was closed for the day.

Hosein’s Indian Delicacies owner Sherieda Hosein said any price increase of doubles at this time was unjustified, as the cost of materials had been reduced.

“I am selling $5 each with free channa. We have tamarind sauce, anchar channa, everything free. I think raising the price is hard. Our business is a tourist attraction, when you raise the price people will go. We make a profit at $5,” she said.

Hosein said while some commodities had increased since the removal of VAT, some products like oil had been reduced.

“On the first of November, the price will drop. Right now the price drop back from $300 for a keg of oil, we now pay $260 but the channa raised from $260 to $350,” she said.

Despite this, Hosein said they were cognizant of the challenges people are facing and decided not to raise their price.

“It is hard for some people to buy at $6,” she added.

Meanwhile, at the Orange shed in Barrackpore, Mynie Motilal sold her doubles at $4. She too agreed a price hike now was not warranted.

“We are selling at $4 for the past three years and we don’t intend to raise our prices. This is the price in this community and we decided to cope with the people and the prices too,” Motilal said.

At the M2 Ring Road in Debe, doubles also sold at $4.

At Clarke Road, Penal, one vendor was selling doubles for $2 but declined an interview.

Customer Sham Sookerali said it was a popular place because of the price.

“We support this place because it is $2. Things so hard, why raise the price of doubles now? Everyone should be trying to drop their prices,” Sookerali said.

Some people said they would boycott the vendors who are selling doubles for $6.

Nigel Clement said doubles is a poor man’s food.

“The price increase is ridiculous. I will not pay $6 and $6.50,” he added.

Meanwhile, Wazim Ali, of Ali’s Doubles, whose family has been selling doubles in T&T since 1938, said the price increase is justified.

“Flour has gone up at some supermarkets by a $1-$3 per 10kg bag. The cost of oil has effectively doubled, from $180 in 2019 to $360 in 2021 a keg, for the box oil. Channa prices have increased from $240 to $260-$300 a bag. Paper, napkins and bags have also gone up in 2021,” he said.

He added, “Currently, a bag of pepper is wholesaling for $800, up from $500. A retail pepper is $1 each. Mango is $2 for one. Tamarind is $50 per pound, up from $25. Seasoning prices have also increased. So a 12.5 per cent decrease in cooking oil cannot negate the effects of the overall increases.”

He noted that labour costs have also gone up.

“The minimum daily wage for a skilled person to cut and press barrah or a wrapper is $250. So really, how is a $1 increase going to compensate for these increases?” he added.