14ymedio, Havana, 27 October 2017 — The Cuban government has set price caps for 47 food products in the province of Villa Clara “with the aim of containing the excessive increases” of recent weeks, “a gap that allows profit at the expense of the consumer,” says a note published on Thursday in the local press.
The measure affects the supply and demand farm markets popularly known as agromercados, which sell agricultural products, pork and other processed products. Fixed and mobile outlets (carts) must also comply with the new regulated prices, according to a provision of the Provincial Defense Council (CDP).
The rule, which is temporary, according to the CDP, seeks to “protect customers against unscrupulous people who profit at the expense of increased needs due to shortages caused by Hurricane Irma.”
The article, published in the weekly newspaper Vanguardia, explains that before the implementation of these prices “meetings were held with the sellers to explain the reasons for these type of actions for the benefit of the people.”
Regulated prices have been established for various products such as root crops, meats, grains, vegetables, condiments and fruits. In most cases “they should be marketed at the same prices as before the hurricane” and will be “evaluated monthly from November to February, during the recovery phase of agriculture,” according to the article.
Sellers who violate price caps risk “severe measures such as seizures and the cancellation of their licenses.” Local authorities have called on consumers to denounce merchants who violate the provisions.
The Directorate of Inspection and Supervision, the Ministry of the Interior, the State Directorate of Commerce, the Labor and Social Security directorates and the National Association of Small Farmers will also redouble their inspections to insure that the price caps are complied with.
Since the end of last year the experiment of capping food prices has been spreading from the province of Artemisa to all the municipalities of Havana and has provoked mixed reactions. Consumers celebrate the lower prices, but complain about the fall in quality and reductions in supply.
The measure was taken after the issue of food prices led many discussions in the National Assembly session held in December 2016. In response to the demands of several deputies, Raul Castro said that measures would be taken to bring prices closer to wages. The announcement served as a warning to producers and intermediaries.