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All set for 20% discount

By RACHAEL ESPINET Saturday, December 21 2013

REPRESENTATIVES from the National Flour Mills (NFM), Supermarket Association (SATT) and the Consumer Affairs Division, met yesterday with Trade and Industry Minister Vasant Bharath to discuss the Prime Minister’s decision to slash by 20 percent, the cost of flour, oil and rice on December 23 and 24.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced the 20 percent discount on NFM oil, flour and rice. While most people agreed it was a good idea, supermarket owners expressed concern there would be no proper mechanism in place for them to receive a rebate on items they already purchased. They also expressed concern about not having sufficient time to change the prices by the December 23 deadline.

Yesterday at the meeting it was agreed that providing the supermarkets give the discount to the customers they will receive a rebate. “The rebate system will be done based on the items purchased with the invoice date between December 16 and 24. Based on that point of sale system we would be able to know what the stores have purchased and we would be able to rebate them,” stated Kevon Fields, NFM communications officer.

For flour products purchased between December 1 and 15, NFM would check the system to rebate them. Anyone who has purchased stock by December 14 will get a percentage of the rebate. Fields said since there is no possible way to monitor if all flour, oil and rice purchased between December 16 and 24, would be sold on December 23 and 24, stores would receive a rebate regardless.

NFM, the SATT and Consumer Affairs will be working together to monitor the prices on December 23 and 24. Fields further said NFM cannot set a fixed price on the selected NFM flour, oil and rice since each store would have their variation on prices.

Vernon Persad, SATT president, said the association is pleased with the mechanism of rebate that NFM offered to supermarkets. “They were prepared to give a rebate. We will notify our members and we expect them to comply with what the Ministry is asking,” Persad said.

When asked if the supermarkets had enough time to change the prices, he said, “It is only 20 items. It is not like last year when they had to change thousands of items for the VAT removal. It is possible.”

Persad said a lot of customers are yet to do their grocery shopping, mainly because they are only now receiving their salaries for the month. He said this discount will benefit these customers greatly.

Persad wanted to stress to the public that the discount will only be on the NFM products.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad -Bissessar expressed optimism that the supermarket association could implement the 20 percent reduction on NFM brands of oil, rice and flour. Yesterday speaking to Newsday at her toy drive in her constituency along Clarke Road, Penal Persad-Bissessar said: “I hope they would do their best to make sure that the country enjoys the benefit of the discount. I’m sure they could come up to the plate and make it happen.”

Minister of Trade and Industry Vasant Bharath could not be reached for a comment.

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