Prepare for more difficulties as the cost of living increases
The struggle to make ends meet at T&T becomes increasingly difficult as the cost of living continues to skyrocket. From rising food prices to rising rents, taxis and top fares, citizens are overwhelmed as they complain their wages stay the same while others have lost their jobs.
A year and a half after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and social indicators show a worsening of the social and economic crisis. People who are forced to cut back on their food from more beggars on the streets to children unable to attend school due to limited funds are all symptoms of the crisis.
A student who lives in Kelly Village and is affected by rising taxi fares also messaged a teacher about her predicament.
“Hey, miss … Did you know that transportation has (sic) increased the prices … it’s like $ 15 to get out of Kelly now.” I may not be in school for a while. And this is just one highlighted situation.
Kiss Company has increased the prices of some of its products, the Port-of-Spain to Chaguanas Taxi Association has increased the tariffs, the Route Two Maxi association has also signaled that it will increase its tariffs, KC Candy, the leading manufacturer of sweets nationwide, also announced that from October 1, the prices of their products will rise among increases in other sectors of the economy.
Official statistics confirmed the fears of the population.
The Central Bank (CBTT) last Thursday attributed the rise in food inflation to rising shipping costs, transport delays and adverse weather conditions which “led to a noticeable increase in food prices.”
“The latest information from the Central Statistics Office shows that food inflation (year-on-year) fell from 3.2% in January to 4.9% in July 2021,” the Central Bank said in its latest report on monetary policy.
Core inflation (which excludes food) remained relatively contained at 1.6% in July 2021, with headline inflation of 2.2%, but could rise further in the coming months given the increases. recently announced transport tariffs, said the Central Bank.
“I feel like I’m going into survival mode”
Jason, who preferred not to give his last name, uses public transportation to get to work in Port-of-Spain. He told the Sunday Guardian that he was not sure he could continue working in Port-of-Spain for much longer, as traveling from Chaguanas to the capital every day became much more expensive.
He believes that taxi drivers between Port-of-Spain and Chaguanas are not allowed to increase their fares that much.
âThis will affect me enormously. I work for a little over the minimum wage and that means that from now on almost all of my salary will be spent on travel. I travel from Cunupia to Jerningham Junction, then a maxi to Chaguanas then I take a car to Port-of-Spain. With this new increase, I will be spending $ 60 per day on travel.
He said with the cost of living rising and dependents to feed each month, he doesn’t know how he will survive.
âI feel like I’m working just to pay for the passage and get to work. Everything is increasing except our salaries. I feel like I’m going into survival mode. I have all these bills to pay and mouths to feed.
To survive, he said he was looking for additional sources of income.
âI am surviving by the grace of God and I have a few things I am doing alongside to earn some extra money. It is in the area of ââgraphic design services. I have no other choice. In order for someone to survive, a normal person has to have two jobs. How else are people going to survive? ” He asked.
“I cut to make ends meet”
Sandra, who preferred not to give her last name, said she had a small catering business and it had been cut back considerably in recent years.
Now she has less income and, to make matters worse, the cost of living is going up.
âI used to cook and sell all week, now I only sell on weekends because most people cut back on their meals out and cook their own. Over the past few months, I have seen the prices of flour, rice and sugar go up. So I have less money and the prices go up, from groceries to maintaining my car every part of my life. “
Sandra said she has a seven year old daughter who is taking online classes and she has to find money to pay the internet bill, she was forced to buy a new tablet and she even had to cut back the number of items she buys at the supermarket.
“I used to have cable, I cut it down, now I buy less food at the supermarket … to try and save money.”
Sandra isn’t optimistic about the cost of living improving anytime soon and remains pessimistic about the future.
âI know people who have even had to cut back on their daily meals because that’s what they do to survive. Others have to sell some of their personal items in order to survive. It’s really hard here. It is pressure for the poor. It is really depressing.
Prices will keep going up, stretch your dollar
Responding to the worsening crisis of rising prices and falling living standards, economists have called on the population to stretch their dollar as they brace for more hardship. The years of plenty are long gone and the country must adapt to lean periods, economists have advised.
Dr Ronald Ramkissoon
Dr Ronald Ramkissoon
Economist Dr Ronald Ramkissoon is not surprised that the cost of living in the country is rising rapidly. He said anyone with a basic understanding of the global economy during the pandemic could have predicted this would happen.
âIf you look at local and international supply chains, due to the supply of COVID-19, these chains have been affected by a number of factors such as the global lockdown. This means that products that were readily available through fluid supply chains, these chains have now been significantly reduced or slowed down and this has resulted in products entering the market with higher costs and prices. Look at the closure of shipping lines.
He believes the situation will not last forever because as more people are vaccinated and more of the local and international economy is opened up, supply chains will return to normal. .
Shifting from macroeconomics to household spending, Ramkissoon advised consumers to save their money and cut spending on items unnecessary to survive.
âWe have a responsibility to make do with a bit and stretch it as far as your money can go. Eliminate the waste that we the citizens endured during the years of plenty. “
Dr Vaalmikki Arjoon
University of the West Indies economist Dr Vaalmikki Arjoon warned in an interview with the Sunday Guardian that prices would continue to rise in the near term.
âThis is due to global supply chain issues creating shortages of goods that we typically import, highlighting the need to be more self-sufficient and to take building non-energy sectors seriously. Last year, prices rose as many suppliers were closed due to pandemic lockdowns causing a global shortage of many food, medicine, etc.
He said the situation could have been worse for food prices locally, but competition to sell imported food products between several supermarket chains would have helped to marginally suppress some of the price increases for customers, even if they are. even higher.
A few key supermarket chains have special deals to help vulnerable people.
Commenting on Kiss increasing its prices, he said competition in the market could help consumers.
âHowever, this could increase the sales of small bakeries across the country that offer lower prices in Kiss. It also represents an opportunity for supermarket chains to offer more storage space for bread from these other local bakeries which are cheaper for the consumer.
He also mentioned the negative impact that the increase in the fares of the maxi and taxis will have on the population.
âWith the overall cost of living rising, it’s no surprise that the cost of public transportation has increased. Workers in this sector will increase their costs as they also incur a higher cost of living and need more purchasing power to afford to feed their families with a higher income. Soon, workers in other industries will begin to demand higher wages, to cope with the rising cost of living, which includes not only the higher costs of food and medicine, but also transportation costs. . “