Cook Islands Democratic Party Calls For Price Controls

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High cost of living requires new Commerce Bill: Demos

By Phillipa Webb

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Nov. 29, 2014) – Price controls are needed to curb the high cost of living, says Democratic Party finance spokesperson James Beer.

"In past years there were price controls in place on essential items, this then grew to include price controls on just about every commodity," he said.

Price controls became difficult to monitor and compliance difficult to enforce when just about every commodity became part of its administration including all types of tin fish and all types of coffee and tea, he said.

"Recently government took less interest in this mechanism for controlling prices and relied on market forces to do this, which of course is one of the best ways to manage pricing and service."

Beer argues that over the past few years experience has proven that this mechanism has not worked, and in fact prices have continued to escalate beyond reasonable profit levels.

"In the absence of a Commerce Bill, where certain business practices that limit competition would be illegal and as a result of concerns raised by independent retailers and members of the public, I will be bringing a motion to Parliament at its next sitting to call for a vigorous debate on the issue of the high cost of living and to get a determination from Parliament for the reintroduction of the price control administration as a matter of the utmost urgency."

This government promised back in 2012 that a commerce bill which is an important piece of business legislation for fair and open competition that would drive down prices would be coming to Parliament in that year, he said.

"So far all we have heard is the cost of administration and that there was no one suitably qualified to be its commissioner were some of the reasons for its derailment.

"The real question is what is it costing our people now as a result of it not being enacted?

"All the outer island MP’s would no doubt have an interest in Price Control as the voters in their electorates would and should be making complaints to them over this issue," he said.

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