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Letter: Soaring cost of living

Friday 15 March 2024 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion


Letter: Soaring cost of living

Dear Editor, The cost of living is hitting low to middle income families like a kick in the stomach! Asking the same families to grow food crops, is only a temporary solution to a long-term problem.

What government needs to do urgently, as it is within their realm of responsibility and authority, is to tackle this ‘imported beast’ head on. By head on, Government needs to form a high-level Taskforce Committee, made up of esteem Government, private and business leaders. The Financial Secretary and MEFM’s economist, must be part of the task force. I believe, we are in a crisis situation that is not affecting high-income bracket of workers. Government has a social responsibility to tackle this crisis.

A two-prong approach needs to be taken with collective assistance from the New Zealand government through the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) together with the big market producers and exporters of food supplies to the Cook Islands. If export prices and other variables from the New Zealand market can be revised for cost savings, along the food supply chain, then these savings can be passed onto the consumers.

Secondly, a review of our major food importers’ pricing system needs to be looked into, as their own cost variables and profit margins, could be excessive? This is not government interference but more consumer protection and fair trading. Price gouging only becomes visible when it becomes transparent. Comparative food prices from many products have dramatically risen over the past 24 months. To include this list would take up a full page of Cook Islands News. I won’t mention the need for a Commerce Commission, as this initiative was not supported years ago.

Government has all the tools and expertise at its disposal, so why not use it. At least, this will attempt to reduce the pain that families face after every shipment of fuel and goods. The pain is even more severe for the Pa Enua, where on average, prices have doubled compared to Rarotonga. Prices from all sectors are increasing not stabilising and declining, and any further inaction by Government relating to this economic travesty will only get worse. Bridging the gap between the minimum wage and the living wage is essential. Government must confront this ‘imported beast’ with all means possible.

Terea Mataiapo Paul Allsworth