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No Shortage Of Basic Food Items: FCCC

FCCC chief executive officer Joel Abraham said food items continued to be imported.
31 Mar 2020 13:49
No Shortage Of Basic Food Items: FCCC
Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission chief executive officer Joel Abraham.

The Fijian Competition and Commerce Commission (FCCC) says there is no shortage of basic food items.

FCCC chief executive officer Joel Abraham said food items continued to be imported.

Panic buying was the result of delay in timely delivery of items, he said.

“It’s worth noting that a vast majority of products are not affected, and supermarkets and pharmacies are not seeing shortages.

“But to ensure that everyone has access to essential items, FCCC has also introduced some common sense limits to essential products.”

Travel limitations to Lautoka has also impacted products from Lautoka, he said.

However companies such as Flour Mills of Fiji (FMF) have moved to run 24/7 production operations to cater for the demand, Mr Abraham said.

He said FMF confirmed adequate stock existed for customers.

Orthodox stimulus

Mr Abraham said a more orthodox stimulus would have aimed to prevent people defaulting on loans or rental payments by making sure there was enough demand for goods and services in the economy.

The commission made the comment in a statement about the COVID-19 Response Budget.

FCCC executive officer Joel Abraham said workers would be employed, and businesses would thrive if such an orthodox stimulus was created.

“A fiscal stimulus is intended to promote economic activity,” the commission said.

Stimulus packages are generally rolled out by governments in the aftermath of an economic recession, he said.

“This is why, for example, the UK government responded to the financial crash by paying people to scrap their existing cars and buy new ones.

“The idea was that the car industry would be facing reduced demand as a result of the crash, so the government was paying people to buy cars so the factories would keep turning out the same volume of cars as before, employing the same number of workers.”

Smoke and fire

“Essentially, the economic recession is the smoke, but coronavirus is the fire.”

Mr Abraham said the supplementary budget included a measure to prevent renters being evicted by offering to cover their rent if they were unable to pay it.

He said the recent budget was different because the government recognised that monetary and financial tools could not solve the crisis and maintain the level of activity in the economy that existed pre-pandemic.

“There is no point trying to stimulate demand and thereby create jobs if those who would be buying the goods and services are locked down anyway, or if the tourists they would normally serve cannot enter the country.

“You can’t stimulate demand if shops are closed, hotels are shuttered and it’s unsafe for people to go to work.”

Feedback: frederica.elbourne@fijisun.com.fj



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