Luganville rice suppliers warned over price hikes
The Luganville Municipal Council has warned rice suppliers in Luganville not to use the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to increase rice prices.
The warning comes as rice sellers in the northern town experienced supply shortages because of a two-month delay in ship deliveries.
Local consumers have raised concerns about higher rice prices over the past few weeks as the shortage of rice pushed up demand.
During the shortage, rice prices increased to VT2500 for an 18 kilogram bag of rice in Luganville.
And, VBTC witnessed consumers rushing into shops and queuing up to buy rice in the town.
Luganville Municipal Town Clerk, Jonathan Iavre, issued a letter this week warning the town’s wholesale and retail suppliers not to use disasters such as the COVID-19 pandemic to push up prices.
Mr Iavre condemned the price hikes, noting some sellers had raised their prices by 40 to 60 per cent.
Mr Iavre says the council is asking all rice suppliers in Luganville to revert to “normal rice prices”.
A spokesperson for the wholesale rice supplier Esah Corporation Santo, says the increase in price was due to the delayed rice shipment to Luganville and a shortage among other local suppliers.
The company says it has reduced its rice prices this week with the price of an 18 kilogram bag of rice from them dropping from VT2500 to VT2290.
However, consumers in Luganville say the normal cost of an 18 kilogram bag of rice ranges from only VT1800 to VT1900; and a 25 kilogram bag from around VT2800 to VT 2900.
VBTC understands some rice suppliers have been able to refill their rice stocks this week.