By John Denny Observer Reporter
(Charlestown, Nevis) ” The Nevis Island Administration has denied claims by sources that the government Supply Store is running low on goods because of unpaid bills. The NIA instead cites transportation and other circumstances for the problem. A number of staple items that have run out or are in very short supply include sugar, flour, rice, canned milk and certain animal feeds. A sign in the window at the store announces that all credit is suspended. Anonymous sources claim the NIA owes $1,500,000 to various vendors who supply the store, including $900,000 to their biggest vendor, East Caribbean Group of Companies (ECGC) and another $300,000 to Nestle. “That is a lie,” said Junior Minister Dwight Cozier. “There were a lot of unpaid bills when we took over this administration, but we have since paid off all those.” An executive with ECGC also said that unpaid bills were not a factor in getting the goods to the Nevis Supply Store. Another vendor refused to comment for this story. The reason for running short on so many things was a shipping problem, according to the Junior Minister. “There was an oil spill on the Mississippi and about 100 vessels were backed up waiting to get out,” he said. “Flour is what we are shortest on and the oil spill was preventing the grain from getting to St. Vincent where it is to be ground.” The grain has finally arrived in St. Vincent, according to ECGC spokesman Martin Labode. It should be processed and on its way to Nevis shortly. In the meantime, two containers of flour have been ordered from St. Kitts. Nevis” sugar supply comes from Guyana and currently, that country has nearly stopped selling to Caribbean nations so producers can focus on the European market before the price drops on October 1. The Supply Store is not completely out of sugar, but Minister Cozier said two containers are to be delivered sometime later this month. Canned milk is supplied to Nevis by Nestle Peru. There have been continual shipment problems from this source, according to the Junior Minister. “We are still waiting on our May shipment of milk,” he said. “There are many technical problems with getting the milk here and it cannot be stored for a long time. We can’t order 10 containers because of spoilage. As soon as they send the May shipment, we are going to ask for them to send the June shipment.”