The special task force which was announced back in March 2022 with the aim of tackling price gouging in the territory was never established and will likely remain inactive.

Premier Dr. the Honourable Natlaio Wheatley made the disclosure during a recent press conference after local media enquired about the initiative.

He said his research found that the task force was never created but said his present government was working on a similar initiative which will be spearheaded by the Consumer Affairs Unit of the Trade Commission once it comes into effect.

“Once it’s brought into effect, it’s going to have a Consumer Affairs Unit. And that’s really going to be the goal of the Consumer Affairs Unit. They’ll work together with Central Statistics Office, they’ll work together with Customs, they’ll work together with the Ports to ensure that we have a system in place to be able to not only monitor prices, but if we have specific initiatives like concessions and we want to ensure that prices are passed on to the consumer, we’ll come up with a specific mechanism, to make sure that takes place,” the premier stated.

“[It] will include collecting information from these particular businesses, maybe agreeing on a particular markup on a specific basket of goods and of course, we also want to have discussions with these businesses in terms of what we can do to help them provide better prices to the consumers. Whether there are some adjustments we have to make to our policies on the port, whether we have to take a look at our cap system and what modifications need to be made to the cap systems for Customs,” he further explained.

Discussion with BVICCHA already started

Premier Wheatley also revealed that he has already commenced discussions with the BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association (BVICCHA) which represents a large portion of businesses within the territory.

He said, “We’re going to be engaged with them in this conversation. We want to have a conversation with our supermarkets, those persons who import heavily – hardware stores, etc. – and have a real, not an adversarial conversation.

“We want to have a conversation and see how we can be of assistance, how we can help with the ultimate goal of not just increasing profits of businesses, but being able to have relief directly to the consumer,” the premier added.