13 Jun 2008

Marshall Islands Government looks at how it can ease the burden in its people

1:30 pm on 13 June 2008

The Marshall Islands government is looking at what it can do to ease the financial burdens facing some people.

Retail prices for rice, the main staple food in the country, and entirely imported, have jumped from under 8 US dollars a 20-pound bag to over 10 dollars and retailers say the price will likely hit 15 dollars by next month.

Electricity rates for homes have risen 78 percent since November last year, rising from 23 cents a kilowatt hour to 41 cents as of last weekend.

The government's chief planner, Carl Hacker, says the government is very limited in what it can do.

But he says it looking at some measures to help ease the burden for locals.

"We are looking at now some of the tax issues, you know, on import taxes and sales taxes for some of the most basic food items, looking at the possibility of some price controls for the outer islands, because there is a large differential between the outer islands than say Majuro. Typically you are going to find products anywhere from 30 to 50 percent higher on the outer islands"

The Marshall Islands Government's chief planner, Carl Hacker.