PHILIPSBURG–In an effort to prevent price-gouging with the rush for certain products since the outbreak of the COVID-19 (coronavirus), government will be establishing maximum prices for a number of items.
Maximum prices will be set for latex and silicone gloves, hand sanitiser, N95 masks, disinfecting wipes and sprays and rubbing alcohol (70 per cent).
Chairperson of the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs said in connection with the worldwide coronavirus outbreak, the possibility and expected impact, and the activation of the EOC, that there is the need to protect the population against price-gouging.
The Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) has conducted and completed its review of the existing prices on the market and has obtained the relevant information to establish the maximum prices of particular consumer goods; in particular, the adding of the new items in connection with the coronavirus.
In light of this, the Ministerial Regulation establishing the maximum prices on items required in connection with minimising the spread of coronavirus will be approved and established this week and will go into effect immediately until further notice.
Once approved, the list will be made available on the website of the government of St. Maarten:
www.sintmaartengov.org. The Ministerial Regulation establishing the maximum prices on items in connection with the coronavirus includes items from the disaster list as well as latex and silicone gloves, hand sanitiser, N95 masks, disinfecting wipes and sprays, and rubbing alcohol, which have been deemed necessary to prevent the spread of the virus.
“Given the volatility of global prices on the above-mentioned items, the intention is to review the list periodically with stakeholders to ensure that these essential items remain available to the population of St. Maarten as the coronavirus continues to spread worldwide,” Jacobs said in a press release.
Sellers will be forbidden to offer and sell the listed items for more than the maximum prices stipulated.
The TEATT Ministry Department of Control and Inspection will be responsible for controlling the business community’s adherence to the established maximum prices.
The public is urged to contact the department at tel. +1-721-542-4511, if violations are found. For the department to effectively address any violations, the public is asked when purchasing items from the list(s) to take a picture of the item and to request a receipt, which should include the price of the item, the date of purchase and the name and address of the business where the item was purchased.
Business owners who fail to adhere to the established maximum prices risk imprisonment for up to four years or a maximum fine of NAf. 10,000, in accordance with Article 8 of the Price Ordinance.
“The government of St. Maarten is making every effort to safeguard consumers, and hereby encourages the business community to adhere to these regulations as key social partners. Businesses are also to ensure that safety and hygiene protocols are in place to protect their employees and clients as COVID-19 remains a worldwide health challenge,” Jacobs said.