Book price uncertainty looms
Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
OCHO RIOS, St Ann:WITH THE new school year just weeks away, some parents are still uncertain what level of price increase awaits them at bookstores.
While Book Industry Association of Jamaica (BIAJ) board member Franklyn McGibbon is insisting that price increases, which he has blamed almost entirely on the slide in value of the Jamaican dollar, range between 22 and 26 per cent, the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) said this cannot be verified until it completes its survey.
McGibbon further insisted that the Ministry of Education's (MOE) textbook policy and revised booklist have no bearing on the rise in prices.
"It (the MOE textbook policy) has not affected the prices, not to my knowledge," McGibbon told The Gleaner on Monday.
He explained: "The pound sterling has moved 24 per cent and a lot of the prices I've seen are around 22 to 26 per cent (increase) in terms of books that would be affected by the pound sterling.
"The most I've seen is an additional two per cent, which is quite reasonable considering inflation rates, etc., and some are even below. The foreign exchange movement alone accounts for possibly about 98 to 99 per cent of the movement in price, some even 100 per cent," he added.
Chief executive officer of the CAC, Dolcie Allen said her office cannot verify the rate of price increase until it completes the survey, possibly today or tomorrow.
"I wouldn't want to comment until I've completed our survey," Allen stated. "What we got from the book industry was a range of nine to 26 per cent (increase), but we cannot confirm those percentages as yet."
price increase effects unclear
It is unclear how the price increase will affect efforts by the MOE to have parents spend less on textbooks this year.
Chief education officer at the ministry, Dr Grace McLean, while not saying what impact the new prices may have, admitted that the ministry expects "modest increases in book prices."
"The ministry anticipates that there will be modest increases in book prices," she stated in an email response to Gleaner queries.
"However parents have been advised to shop around and compare prices before they buy. Parents should also make use of second-hand books once they are of the same edition," McLean suggested.
Meanwhile, McGibbon said it is expected that textbooks will be in adequate supply for the start of the new school year.