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Shoppers at a Supermarket in Port-of-Spain.

The Supermarket Association of Trinidad and Tobago (SATT) says price increases may be on the horizon depending on what the budget brings.

The 2020/2021 fiscal package will be delivered by Finance Minister Colm Imbert on October 5.

Speaking with Guardian Media this morning Rajiv Diptee, SATT president said customers would have to pay more, “Depending on if new taxes are introduced, any shifts in Forex availability or possible erosion in the exchange rates.”

Diptee explained that these types of changes create shocks to prices as they create an increase in the cost of operation as well as have an impact on the cost of goods.

Speaking on CNC3’s The Morning Brew earlier, Diptee said supermarkets are not to be blamed for most of the prices that have already been raised.

He said these increases come from suppliers.

“There is a saying in our industry supermarkets are price takers, not price setters. We do not set prices when we buy products from our suppliers – we set margins on the products.”

He said the reality is that the prices they purchase at have been increasing, more so due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a situation we’ve never been in before, the scarcity of resources cannot be understated.”

However, he admitted that some suppliers have been using the pandemic to increase prices and this should not be tolerated.

“The pandemic is a scapegoat for certain types of behaviour that should not be taking place right now. Certain suppliers may be taking advantage of the situation.”

Diptee said this matter was brought to the attention of Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon since the beginning of the pandemic as the SATT is not a “regulatory watchdog.”

He suggested that consumers should take advantage of the choices they have and not become victims of price-gouging by certain supermarket retailers.

When supermarkets raised prices in January, Minister Gopee-Scoon issued a media release urging for compassion.

She said, “The MTI (Ministry of Trade and Industry) would like to take this opportunity to appeal to manufacturers, importers, distributors and supermarket owners to consider the consumer in the current economic climate and work with the Government to ensure stable and fair pricing and to refrain from price gouging and other exploitative practices.”

The Minister added that the Consumer Affairs Division (CAD), the consumer protection and advocacy arm of the MTI is committed to and will continue its price monitoring exercises and publishing of supermarket prices to facilitate comparative shopping.