Prize freeze ordered for Puerto Rico ahead of Hurrricane Beryl
SAN JUAN – Ahead of the Hurricane Berly’s approach, the secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Consumer Affairs (DACO), Michael Pierluisi Rojo, issued Friday a preventive order that freezes the prices of articles of basic necessities, while freezing the gross profit margin at all levels of distribution and marketing in the sale of gasoline, diesel and liquefied gas.
In a statement, Pierluisi said the order is effective immediately and was issued “in accordance with the public policy of Governor Ricardo Rosselló, to protect consumers from the speculative and unjustified increase in the prices of basic necessities during the preparations for the weather event.”
The order is valid for 10 days and establishes fines of up to $10,000 for non-compliance.
“Although some projections point to Berly’s weakening on its way to Puerto Rico, it is highly recommended that citizens prepare diligently. In this process, as we did in the past, we will not tolerate speculation,” Pierluisi said.
The list of essential items includes canned and fresh food; medications for oral, topical, otic and / or ophthalmic use, to treat skin infections, gastroenteritis, poisoning, flu and cold, conjunctivitis and any other condition that arises as a result of the emergency situation, and other specialties and pharmaceutical practices; storm shutters, modification services, repair and installation of shutters; screws, nuts, nails, expansions, wood panels, rope, turnbuckles and tools; gasoline, diesel or propane generators, equipment, parts, modification services, repair and installation of gasoline, diesel or propane generators; water cisterns, equipment, parts, modification services, repair and installation of water cisterns; equipment, parts and fuel tanks of portable stoves; tanks and water storage containers; and tanks and fuel storage containers.
In addition, the order covers awnings and tents; batteries; flashlights of all kinds; candles; matches; lighters; first-aid articles and kits; energy chargers; water; ice; milk; milk formula for babies; coffee; all kinds of flour and grains; “and any other item or service that a consumer may reasonably need to prepare or recover from an emergency situation.”
In the case of vital goods, their sale prices are frozen, although the articles announced on sale before the issuance of the order must be honored until the announced deadline. Pierluisi explained, however, that the terms and conditions of the sale cannot be altered in any way that could result in a price increase.
In the case of fuel, raising gross profit margins is prohibited at all levels of distribution and marketing in the sale of gasoline, liquefied gas and diesel. No retailer, wholesaler or distributor of these products may have a gross profit margin higher than the levels as of the order’s issuance.
DACO’s secretary stressed there is an equivalent supply of gasoline, diesel and liquefied gas to 30 days of regular consumption of these fuels.
“The inspectors of the agency were all the day monitoring the lines at stores and gas stations. In general, the most sold was water, but we did not receive reports of anomalies or abrupt movements of goods or shortages,” the official said.