The country regulating basic food prices amid its cost-of-living crisis

·Breaking News Editor, Yahoo News UK
·3-min read
People buy fruits and vegetables inside a market, as the Panamanian government announced it will regulate the price of 72 food items following weeks of angry protests and street blockades demanding the government take measures to stem the quickly rising cost of living, in Panama City, Panama July 25, 2022. REUTERS/Erick Marciscano
The cost of living has risen in countries around the world, including Panama. (Reuters)

Panama has announced it will begin regulating the price of some food in an attempt to help tackle the cost of living crisis for struggling citizens.

The announcement follows angry protests and street blockades amid demands the government takes measures to stem the quickly rising prices of everyday essentials.

The price of fuel has also been reduced from $5.20 per gallon to $3.25.

Protesters have blocked roads and even stopped trucks from delivering food in a pressure tactic as inflation accelerated to 5.2% in the year through June, up from annual inflation of 2.6% in December 2021.

President Laurentino Cortizo said in a statement: "With the regulation of the 72 products, the cost of the basic food basket would decrease by 30%, a savings of more than $80."

Read more: Rishi Sunak vows to cut VAT on household energy bills

A demonstrator holds up a sign with a map of Panama and the word
A demonstrator holds up a sign with a map of Panama and the word 'Corruption' during a protest to demand the government steps to curb inflation, lower fuel and food prices. (Reuters)

Cortizo's government has already put in place price controls on a dozen food items and austerity measures for public institutions that included 10% of government workers.

But demonstrators are demanding more be done, including curbs on public spending, greater transparency and more investments in health and education.

Negotiations are ongoing and the government has asked protesters to end the street blockades in the meantime, but demonstrators have refused to do so until an agreement on all demands is reached.

The idea of regulating food prices has been made in the UK as well. Earlier this month, former shadow chancellor John McDonnell called for the UK government to bring in similar controls earlier this month.

McDonnell said the government needed to take control of the impact soaring inflation is having on workers in the UK.

Read more: Pause automatic benefit deductions to ease cost-of-living crisis, MPs urge

Demonstrators take part in a protest to demand the government steps to curb inflation, lower fuel and food prices, in Panama City, Panama July 12, 2022. REUTERS/Erick Marciscano
Demonstrators take part in a protest to demand the government steps to curb inflation, lower fuel and food prices, in Panama City, Panama July 12, 2022. REUTERS/Erick Marciscano

He called for price controls to be brought in on essentials to reduce inflation, and halt rising costs for people living in Britain.

McDonnell said: “At a time of economic crisis, it is time to think big and be radical in restructuring our economy so that never again do people endure a decade or more of falling real wages and rising poverty whilst the threat of climate crisis grows ever more pressing.”

Households are bracing themselves for further increases to energy bills in the coming months, with experts warning the price cap could rise to £3,245 in October – up from £1,277 in March this year.

Read more: Warning families 'are already worried about affording Christmas'

Hayes and Harlington MP John McDonnell speaking at Uxbridge, where he retained his parliamentary seat after the 2019 General Election.
Former chancellor John McDonnell has called for strict price controls.

New figures show UK shop prices rose to their highest level ever at 4.4% in July, up from 3.1% the month before.

According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) on Wednesday, this was the highest rate of shop price inflation since the index first began in 2005, as heightened cost pressures continued to filter through to customers.

Food inflation accelerated strongly to 7% during the month, up from 5.6% in June, the highest inflation rate since May 2009, and above the 12- and 6-month average price growth rates of 2.8% and 4.4%, respectively.

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