Cost of living not soaring, Trade Minister says

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Inflation remains at healthy levels, government says, although it did acknowledge consumers were feeling the impact of increasing costs for imported foods, clothing and household goods.

The annual rate of inflation has not exceeded 2.5 per cent at any time in the last four years, Trade Minister EP Chet Greene said.

A statement released Thursday sought to refute claims that the country’s cost of living was surging significantly each year.

Data from the Consumer Price Index (CPI) estimated inflation to be 1.7 per cent at the end of 2018, and 1.4 per cent from July 2018 to July 2019, Greene said.

The minister continued that the figures were in keeping with the signs of a “healthy, expanding economy”.

Some “areas of concern”, however, included food prices, particularly imported fresh and frozen vegetables, and seafood which are “highly volatile” and trending upwards. Diners would feel the effect in higher restaurant prices, he said.

Clothing and household items are also increasing in cost.

Prices in Antigua and Barbuda are affected by higher tariffs associated with international trade, Greene explained.

“Over the past 36 months, shipping rates have risen at least six times with the associated costs of insurance also trending upwards,” he stated.

Plans to keep local prices in check include maintaining stability in energy rates.

“The fuel variation rate for electricity has not risen since 2014 and water tariffs have remained fixed since 1968,” Greene added.

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