G.Bissau consumer groups protest high food prices

BISSAU — Consumer groups in Guinea-Bissau staged a protest in the capital Wednesday against the high cost of food in the west African state, handing authorities a list of grievances.

Some 50 protesters gathered in front of the government building in Bissau, brandishing placards reading, “We can’t take it anymore, everything is expensive” and “Our families eat only one meal a day”.

They had compiled 10 pages of grievances, especially against taxes on 62 products including essentials like rice, oil and sugar, making their prices prohibitive in a country where the minimum monthly salary is 19,000 CFA francs (29 euros/41 dollars).

“The taxes are passed on directly to consumers. We want that to stop,” said Fode Caramba Sanha, head of the Guinean Consumer Association.

The consumer groups have also called on the government to work with its social partners and merchants to find a solution to the rising price of essential goods.

Marguerida Pontes, a 50-year-old cleaning woman in the public works ministry, told AFP that “our salaries are not enough to live on”.

She said she earned 18,000 CFA francs a month and cited as an example that a sack of rice cost 17,500 CFA francs.

The protesters handed their list of grievances to Higino Cardoso, the country’s minister of natural resources, who accepted it on behalf of Prime Minister Carlos Gomes.
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