January 07, 2015
A prominent businessperson yesterday called on the government to rein in recent accusations of price gouging, calling them "disingenuous and not helpful" as businesses and consumers adjust to value-added tax (VAT).
Responding to comments from price control czar E.J. Bowe, Superwash President Dionisio D'Aguilar told Guardian Business that all involved parties needed to "wait for the dust to settle" following VAT's implementation last week before accusing businesses of price gouging.
"There's a lot of noise in the marketplace right now and we need to wait for the dust to settle. I'm sure that we'll see readjustments and I'm sure that we'll see consumers will say 'look, I'm not paying that' and businesses will be forced to adjust their prices.
"What I don't like is consumers think that businesses are raising their prices to gouge. Bowe has to stop this vilification of businesses. It's very disingenuous and not helpful," said D'Aguilar.
Bowe made the rounds to several large retailers in recent days to assess claims of price gouging.
While D'Aguilar said that some business owners had increased their prices beyond 7.5 percent, he asserted that such comments took the focus off what he felt was the true cause of sharp price increases in recent weeks: additional taxes.
"The government needs to make it clear why the prices are going up, and that's because of taxes. If a business raised its price I would say probably 80 percent of that increase is because of government taxes," said D'Aguilar.
Regarding the duty reductions accompanying VAT, D'Aguilar said that while the new tariffs would certainly reduce the cost of doing business, their full benefits would not be felt for some time.
"It does reduce your costs, but it's not as significant as if the government reduced the cost of doing business. We can't argue that it has not reduced the cost of doing business, and that's one thing that has, but you will not feel the effects of that, at least from a business standpoint, until 2016," he said.
Despite the slight relief brought about by the duty reductions, D'Aguilar warned that VAT is just the beginning of future cost increases accompanying further taxation.
"If the government was run properly we wouldn't have this problem. This is just the beginning of more and more taxes," he said.
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