The Chair of the New Zealand Maori Council, Matthew Tukaki, this morning has called for a price freeze on essential items and the basics. The call comes as the cost of living increases begins to take hold in many vulnerable homes and communities and to head of potential price gouging by some operators. Tukaki has also said that there do need to be universal restrictions on quantities of some goods reminding people that while there is plenty to go around some whanau just do not have the means to afford even the basics.
“I have said before that we must be mindful of the cost of living increases and more to the point that while an immense amount of work has been done to increase the minimum wage the reality is that everyone is under pressure. Lifting wages will always be the best idea but with many small businesses struggling right now the only other mechanism is to lock in prices for essential items – that includes bread, milk, flour, sanitary and personal health products – everyday consumables that people rely on right now” Tukaki said
“Our only mechanism should not be for people to line up at foodbanks therefore just putting pressure on social service agencies and for the time being, with this pandemic still unfolding price freezes for agreed consumables could be in place for a limited time such as the next six months” Tukaki said
“We are dealing with a lift in inflation, we are dealing with increasing housing prices and even the price and the bowser to fill the car up has increased. Everything on the table or in the cupboard that consumers rely on is hitting the hip pocket and its not just families and whanau I am worried about – its our elderly and our disabled, those who already struggling on low weekly rates of pay or income.” Tukaki said
“Another lever that we might need to look it is also freezing in the rental market for a period of time and while these suggestions might not be palatable to everyone we need to have a conversation now about what is happening at the moment with an increasing rate of vulnerability in the community. And by the way the stereotypical vulnerable whanau is not just those on low wages – im also talking about the massive rump of middle class kiwis who are robbing Peter to pay Paul every week with laboured debt” Tukaki said
“At the very least we also need a much longer term fiscal plan about the three key components of our prudent financial policy – managing cost of living increases, increasing wages and managing inflation.” Tukaki said
The National Maori Authority has previously shared its concerns with the Commerce Commission as part of the review into the grocery industry and supermarket policy.