Two days after the country listened to yet another deficit budget and woes painted of a gloomy economy, the price of doubles has risen.
Two barras and channa, sold for $4, is now $5. A tripple-three barras and channa has also been increased by $1.
Doubles vendor for the past 35 years Mahase Kanhai said he felt he had no choice but to increase the price.
His business is on Broadway, Port-of-Spain.
Saying he increased the price one day after Finance Minister Colm Imbert presented the 2015/2016 fiscal package in Parliament, Kanhai said he believed the increase in super gas would eventually have an overall trickle down effect on all goods and services.
“It was $4 but we had no choice but to increase the price. We added the cost of everything and with the passing of the budget... gas gone up so everything will also go up soon,” Kanhai added.
Despite the increase, the 48-year-old man, who operates the business with his son, Narendra, 26, said the influx of customers had been steady.
“Customers are still coming. They are not complaining because when it comes to food it is the taste and quality that matter... however you want to spend your money... but the $4 was not cutting it anymore,” Kanhai added.
Asked whether he believed the doubles business was becoming more and more difficult to sustain Kanhai said it all had to do with market prices, adding: “As the cost goes up we will go up too. In business it is about profit so I will adjust to suit.”
He said other doubles vendors in Central and along the East/West Corridor had also increased their prices.
Shawn Sadd Nagim, who operates the Nagim and Sons doubles on Chacon Street, Port-of-Spain, said he too was expected to increase his price but he would give his customers ample warning.
He said: “We are monitoring our goods prices according to what we have right now so when we calculate it then it will be adjusted to suit.
“However, this will not be in the near future but it will be adjusted eventually.
“People will take advantage of the price hike. The groceries would normally raise their prices and according to what we get we will have to pass it on to the consumer but at least we would give them notice, compared to other people.”
Saying his price increase was expected to take effect by the end of the year Sadd Nagim added his new cost for a doubles was expected to be between $4.50 and $5.
Asked whether he believed the decrease in Value Added Tax (VAT) from 15 per cent to 12.5 per cent would assist small businesses Sadd Nagim said:
“The drop in VAT would balance off but it is according to the supermarkets because they would take advantage and give consumers the same prices as before so we would have no choice but to increase.
“Once the Supermarket Association can clarify the prices we will work together with them,” Sadd Nagim, who has been selling on the same spot for the past ten years said.
In 2008, the price of the popular stable rose from $3 to $4.
REGULARISE SMALL BUSINESSES
Several Facebook users who expressed their displeasure by the doubles hike said the time was long overdue to regularise businesses that do not pay taxes.
“Make them have to register their businesses to operate. Without the necessary authorisation you cannot sell nothing. Make them provide financial records and set up business accounts, then let them pay taxes on that,” the user said, adding that the hike was “advantage” to poor people.
Another suggested that people buy fruits instead which were far healthier than street food.
A few others called on citizens to boycott doubles, saying the purchasing power ultimately lay with them.
“You have a choice do not buy it. These people are haters I am sure he had those ingredients before the Budget because they buy in bulk. Tough luck... make your sandwich from home,” one person added..