LETTER: Some businesses taking advantage of health crisis to increase prices

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Dear Editor,

It is always despicable to know that in some countries where disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, and/or any kind of pandemics strike, that there are people in business who will price gouge. Price gouging, better known as black marketing in Guyana and around the world is a despicable, distasteful, dishonorable, and total act of thievery and deceit.

For any businessperson to use such a painful situation to enrich themselves when there are viruses or any crisis affecting the population of a nation; such persons need to be imprisoned and lose their licenses.

I witnessed someone selling sanitizers on Facebook and even read in an article from the newspapers whereby it was highlighted that a particular business is selling a small bottle of sanitizer for fifteen hundred dollars in Mahaica. Sanitizers, which are usually sold for one hundred dollars are now being sold for four to five hundred dollars, suddenly. I have seen in Miami when there is a hurricane approaching and people try to buy a generator or two, the price has a tendency of suddenly tripling.

Further, I wish to make a particular mention of Demerara Distillers Limited’s (DDL) product “Environ” which I think is a magnificent sanitizer that is being sold at a very affordable price – between a thousand to eleven hundred dollars – at most retailers. However, unfortunately, I noticed one drugstore, near to Middle and East Streets that was selling the same product for eighteen hundred dollars.

The acting Government of Guyana through the Guyana Revenue Authority (G.R.A) has withdrawn all taxes on sanitizing products. However, some of our Guyanese people in business have taken advantage of the situation at hand and are seeking to make an absolute killing in the country. We must not forget that this is a time when people are confused and depressed, not only by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic but with the madness of the prevailing election and therefore adding to the mental pressure, confusion, and depression of the citizens of this country.

The G.R.A, in league with the officials and the enforcement arms of the Ministry of Public Health, should have some methodology or a system in place to target establishments conducting this type of practice and sanction them by use of the judicial system to charge them before the courts and concurrently place them in the media by naming and shaming them publicly for these unethical and atrocious acts.

My advice to them, also, is that you must remember that the businesses seeking to price gouge in a time of pandemic, and employers taking advantage of their employees, generally, is that you must understand: what you put out is what you will receive. So if you acquire things by deceit, the paper money may look plenty but those gains become cursed and consumption of it within that family – inclusive of the owner – would have to suffer undue divine retribution from the Creator and the universe.

At this juncture, I beseech you, my fellow Guyanese, to show concern, care, and work to support each other. Please remember that monies are very short at the moment and that many people are not working or their full-time jobs have now become part-time.

Do not abuse the citizens of the country by taking advantage of the circumstances at hand for personal gain. Let us work as one human family under God to alleviate the stresses of the present time. After all, we are all in this together.

Sincerely,

Hajji Dr Roshan Khan

Sr