Price hike of goods in Apia challenging: public

By David Mala 15 January 2022, 1:00PM

Members of the public have expressed concern at the rising cost of living and urged the Ministry of Commerce Industry and Labour to do random visits of business premises.

Samoa, like many vulnerable Pacific Island economies, continues to feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global trade and the supply chain which has led to local companies increasing prices due to a hike in freight and import duty costs.

A 37-year-old shop supervisor, who works in an Asian-owned business in Lotopa and refused to give her name, said the rising cost of living is a major hurdle for her as prices of goods appear to increase on a weekly basis.

She said she is even seeing price increases in the shop she currently works in and often tries to negotiate with the business’ owner for a “fair price” for local customers.

“I have always felt the need to help our people any way I could,” the shop supervisor told the Samoa Observer. 

“Even though I cannot change the prices on goods and products within our store, I still try my best to reason with our [business] owner for fair prices for our customers when I see fit.”

As an example, the shop supervisor cited the shortage of rice experienced in Samoa three months ago, due to the delay in the arrival of a container ship.

A lot of stores immediately increased the price of their remaining rice stock, but their business’ owner did not hike the price, after his own staff expressed concern at any plans to increase the price.

“Because our store's owner has seen our concern and that even with our earned income, we still are not able to meet our everyday needs and wants.”

The shop supervisor then appealed to the MCIL to do random inspections of business premises, if the rights of the customers are to be protected.

“This can serve as a reminder to the Ministry of Commerce Industry and Labour to pay visits to supermarkets and stores, once in a while, to inspect if fair prices are given to the public for their goods and products.

“There is no M.C.I.L. [policy] that states when a supermarket or shop is short on an item then the pricing needs to be raised because that is the real issue right now. 

“The owner tends to raise the cost of products whenever there is a shortage.”

The owner of a small-to-medium size shop in Lotopa, who only identified himself as Felise, expressed similar sentiments about the cost of living and blamed it for his business’ lack of profit.

“The cost of living is an ongoing issue in Samoa, even us small shops are not able to make much profit, due to developing Chinese-owned supermarkets,” said Felise.

He said the rise in the cost of chicken in recent years is an example of how things have gotten out of control.

“Back then chicken was always sold for a reasonable price and besides the expensive mutton flaps we were always reliable on chicken to change our food menu daily, nowadays the cost of a box of chicken is almost equivalent to the price of two mutton flaps,” said Felise.

“Yes, maybe it is due to the pandemic but it is confusing. Even for me as a shop owner, I am always assured if I buy my stock from Ah Liki wholesale as most of their goods and products are reasonable.”

By David Mala 15 January 2022, 1:00PM
Samoa Observer

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