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Bajans to source cheaper chicken: Mottley

by Marlon Madden
4 min read

Barbadians can expect lower prices for poultry at a number of special outlets starting this week, as the Government continues to put measures in place to help Barbadians better cope with the high cost of living.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley made the announcement on Saturday at the 84th annual Barbados Labour Party (BLP) conference, while suggesting that some retailers were currently engaging in price gouging, based on a recent survey she undertook herself.

“I went around myself and some of you might have seen me in [a particular supermarket], one and two other supermarkets two Sundays ago… So I didn’t rely on no hearsay, I got the pictures in here, the pictures  of all of the prices everything,” said Mottley, as she waved her cell phone.

“I know the ones that were trying to charge $19.90 a kilogram and I know the ones that were charging $11.99 a kilogram for chicken, whole chicken. I live in this country too and I eat chicken too, and I know how families use chicken to stretch,” she said.

The Prime Minister said while it was difficult for the private sector to maintain the social compact with Government, her administration thought it necessary to ensure that at least poultry remains affordable.

The compact, which first ran from July 2022 to January 31, was extended to July 31 this year, before coming to an end.

On Friday, Central Bank Governor Dr Kevin Greenidge warned that the cost of living will remain high for some time, especially given that Barbados imported most of its goods. He reported that the point-to-point inflation rate slowed to 4.3 per cent in July 2023, from 6.4 per cent one year prior.

Mottley said when it came to chicken, whose production was affected by adverse weather conditions in recent months, Barbadians can expect to source that item at selected outlets cheaper than what was being offered at some retailers.

She also announced that there would be a further reduction in poultry price come early next year, when the second feed manufacturer is opened for business.

Mottley insisted that as companies seek to maintain employment and make a profit, there must be a balance with families being able to eke out a living, as she welcomed the recent five per cent reduction in feed prices by Pinnacle Feeds spread over a two-month period.

This was after an eight per cent increase in feed prices in March this year.

Mottley said while she did not expect the feed prices to “come down the full amount because there may be other increases that [the feed manufacturers] are carrying, a five per cent reduction is not enough especially with the problems related to the quality”.

“We have an industry that has jobs and that protects families, but we have a population that must eat and eat properly. Therefore, we were intent on making sure that the average Barbadian can get a one-and-a-half kilogram chicken, which is just under four pounds, for under $20,” she said.

“There are now a number of places that will deliver that for the people of Barbados, all things being equal with the price of oil and the other inputs, and I expect that there will be a further reduction come February when the price of feed can drop even further to be able to support it in this country,” she said.

“I therefore look forward not only to the prices that you will see in the paper tomorrow, but also to additional decreases in the cost of living for chicken come early next year, when the second feed mill comes into production in February of next year,” she said.

In her wide-ranging speech, Mottley said she was encouraging farmers to “establish the farmers’ markets”, though she indicated that the heavy rains have been affecting crop production.

In any event, Mottley said her wish was for at least three farmers’ markets across the island come early next year, “to allow Bajans to buy vegetables and ground provisions at a price that makes sense to them and their families and pockets in this country”.

“We cannot protect you from everything, but we will do our best to do so,” she pledged.

She reminded Barbadians that Government has put a cap on the Value Added Tax (VAT) on fuel, extended the lower VAT rate on electricity and provided an ease in land tax payments on the first $300,000 of property value.

Mottley said her administration thought it necessary to provide ease despite being in an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme and coming out of a dreadful COVID-19 pandemic, which required additional spending by Government.

She said the ease was provided because the government knew Barbadians “need a little extra cash in your pocket to be able to meet the inflation that wasn’t started in Barbados, but was imported into Barbados from across the world”.

“So that all the things that we are doing is to put money in your pockets,” said Mottley.


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