BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis will keep a watchful eye on the consumer price index (CPI) in the twin-island Federation as business entities and consumers continue to adapt to the challenges of life amidst a global pandemic.

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), CPI measures the rate at which the prices of consumption goods and services change from month-to-month, or from quarter-to-quarter.

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, referenced the need to keep a check on prices while presenting The Appropriation (2021) Bill, 2020 in the National Assembly on Tuesday, December 15.

“We are mindful of the potential impact of any notable movement in prices, especially for persons who are suffering loss of income as a result of the pandemic,” said Dr. Harris.

He cited information from the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and other publications that indicate that there was a 1.3 percent decline in prices for the first six months of 2020. However, the declining numbers were due to a decrease in services and non-food indices which fell below 1 percent. In contrast, the food and beverages index was above one percent.

“My government remains committed Mr. Speaker, to the continued advancement of the consumer protection mechanism within the Federation,” said Dr. Harris. “Very early in 2021, we will bring to Parliament for adoption the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Model Consumer Protection Bill. This Bill will enhance the rights of consumers and bring about a better standard of behaviour for the trading of goods and services.”

The CARICOM Model Consumer Protection Bill was prepared by the CARICOM Secretariat. It aims to harmonize the level of protection afforded to consumers across the political union. The provisions of the Model Bill address economic principles maximizing consumer welfare and social principles that grant consumers a greater voice.

According to www.csme.caricom.org more than 100 clauses are contained within the Model Bill covering: The establishment of a Consumer Affairs Commission; Complaints Handling, Consumer Rights, Duties of Suppliers, Unfair Practices, Unfair Terms, Product Liability, Unfair Terms, and many more.