A cargo vessel with supplies at the Avatiu harbour. Ministry of Internal Affairs held a meeting on Friday last week for Government and suppliers to discuss ways to assist consumers through strengthening collaboration with the private sector and also the consumer.22090718
The Ministry of Internal Affairs, Consumer Services Unit hosted its first Consumer Stakeholder meeting with key suppliers to discuss the pricing of essential household goods.
The initiative follows the results of the Ministry’s Consumer
Poll held in June 2022 where consumers were asked a series of questions
pertaining to their household expenditure. The Poll revealed that consumer
spending patterns had indeed been impacted by inflation leaving some concerned
for the future.
“It is in the interest of all, to collaborate together
by initiating discussion on how we can assist our consumers,” the Ministry said
in a statement.
The goal of the meeting held on Friday last week was
for Government and suppliers to discuss ways to assist consumers through
strengthening collaboration with the private sector and also the consumer.
Maru Mariri-Tepou, the Consumer Services Unit inspector,
said: “As the office of the Consumer Commissioner, our role is to protect
consumer rights and raise consumer confidence to continue participating in our
economy actively and regularly.”
“Our services aim to empower confident consumer
purchasing to sustain a healthy economy and strives by empowering our people to
spend their dollars and be satisfied with how they are spending it.”
The Ministry says it’s timely that they reach out
given the current economic situation where prices are increasing rapidly,
adding the meeting allowed attendees to raise concerns and challenges with
current supply chains and some excellent suggestions were made.
Secretary of Ministry of Internal Affairs, Anne Herman
said: “The pricing of goods is certainly not something taken lightly by our
suppliers, there are many factors to consider such as access to markets,
exchange rate fluctuations, labour shortages, interrupted supplies, increasing
freight charges, taxes and levies – all elements that are largely out of the
control of Cook Islands wholesalers and retailers.”
“We all need to be mindful of the impact of each step
of the process and work together and support each other as things will likely
get harder before they get easier.”
The Ministry said all present agreed that price
controls was not a feasible solution to date due to external factors and the
ongoing fluctuating cost to land goods in country.
However, the local enterprises were very conscience of
their charges to consumers and “they will continue to price the goods essential
to families reasonably”.
“All parties have also agreed to form a Consumer
working committee to keep updated on the current situation and share
improvements and insights and ensure we are all on the same page.”