United Retailers Assoc. urges DACO to stop ‘arbitrary fines on businesses’
United Retailers Association (CUD in Spanish) President Jesús E. Vázquez-Rivera urged Puerto Rico Department of Consumer Affairs (DACO, in Spanish) Secretary Edan Rivera-Rodríguez, to “desist once and for all” from the ongoing practice of imposing arbitrary fines on businesses.
Interventions are being done at different businesses, especially supermarkets, to check that product prices on the shelves do not increase, “when it’s known that there has been an increase in maritime cargo costs and in other lines of the food industry,” Vázquez-Rivera said.
“Most of the products have increased in a way never seen before. Meats in some cases have increased up to 100%, and the increase comes directly from the manufacturer,” said Vázquez-Rivera.
As a result of the monopoly at the docks, shipping costs have increased, he said. This has caused distributors to hike their prices, which is reflected in grocery stores, he added.
“Add to that all of the additional costs that we have for being an island under the Jones Act and the result is a considerable increase in everything. We don’t know if this was due to the pandemic, but we do know that supermarkets cannot be punished for these increases,” Vázquez-Rivera said.
Regarding gas stations, the CUD believes it’s time to lift profit margin freezes. Puerto Rico has “too much” competition and is not facing a recent atmospheric phenomenon or disaster.
“We understand that the secretary wants to highlight his work, but he shouldn’t do it at the expense of the Puerto Rican merchants who have suffered so much in the past years,” he said.
“In addition, they must consider the energy problems that we have been facing in recent weeks when many traders are operating with electric generators and there’s very little profit that they can retain,” he said.
The CUD has requested an urgent meeting with the DACO secretary to seek a solution and prevent businesses from “going bankrupt.”