Basic Food Basket goes up

An adjustment of food prices become effective today affecting the basic food basket comprised of 22 basic items..

Consumers will have to pay an adjustment of $ 0.22 per kilo (2.2 pounds) for national potatoes, yucca, babilla and bone-in bone steak.

The maximum retail price of the kilo of babilla went from $ 6.33 to $ 6.55; Bone-on-bone steak from $ 5.40 to $ 5.62 per kilo; the national potato, which cost $ 1.32, will now sell the kilo to $ 1.54, and the yucca, from $ 0.62 to $ 0.84 per kilo.

For the last 48 consecutive months, the administration of President Juan Carlos Varela has kept the regulation in force, cataloged by consumers, merchants and producers as a "political strategy".

Pedro Acosta , president of the National Union of Consumers and Users of Panama (Uncurepa) , warns that after four years of regulations,  the government is not showing what the true distortions of the market are, which has affected national production.

"We are increasingly dependent on imports, we do not produce enough,  and with these regulations, the government seeks to give the impression that people are buying cheap things regardless of whether or not they are produced in Panama," he said.

Although the price control was created to generate a decrease of $ 58 per month in the basic food basket, consumers perceive that everything is more expensive. However, the Government states that the cost of the food basket for a month has been reduced to $ 313.48 and if the measure had not been implemented, the basket would be costing $ 400.20, that is, $ 86.72 more.

While the price of 22 products is regulated, others that are out of the basic basket and are indispensable go up.

Cleaning items, personal hygiene and cuts of meat, which are not controlled, are part of the list that dilutes the savings, some consumers complain.

$ 313.48 was the cost of the basic food basket in Panama during the month of June, according to the Consumer Protection and Antitrust Authority. Many times as the demand for controlled products increases, at times it is impossible to find them and inevitably consumers turn to the more expensive ones.

The farmer explains that the measure is a political strategy that generates serious consequences for the producer, since the regulation reduces the price to five cuts of meat, which represent 30% of the total of one animal, affecting the sale of the other cuts that they are not regulated.

"The regulation makes the consumer look for five cuts of meat, but when there are no cuts cuts to another animal protein, which has created a decline in beef consumption, evident in the statistics of the sector in 2016 and 2017, "he said.

"Anagan sent a note to the Ministry of Commerce and Industries; the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and the Ministry of Agricultural Development, explaining the position of the sector and the denial of price regulation, and the response they have given is the price increase of two regulated cuts of meat. That’s not what we want, we’re looking for a free market, "he said.

Yoris Morales, president of the Association of Merchants of the Market of Supplies, assures that the opinion of producers and retailers was not taken into account either. Explain that this measure has discouraged the sector.

"We have never seen the Government sit down to work out a real strategy to eliminate market distortions. The simplest way you have sought is to freeze prices, which has brought more problems than a solution, "Morales said.

Ensures that the same economy has mechanisms to stabilize prices without the need to affect the free marketing of products through a control.