ANDREW BURROWS ON THE VAT CONTROVERSY

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3 December 2021

(The writer is the former Director of News at the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas—Editor)

So yesterday, I made a post for the first time in weeks on anything current. Here is what I wrote. “My utility bill is rarely under $300 and when I grocery shop, my cart has far more stuff than the 20 items on the breadbasket list. Thanks for the savings because I will appreciate that 2% difference on EVERYTHING ELSE I spend money on. I have no prescriptions.”

Imagine the conniption this post would cause to the point where folks were calling me “tone deaf” and condescending and out of touch and anything else that describes “elitism.” I didn’t think I would have to do this since the main folks calling me out (incorrectly and improperly I may add) are people I know and like and value. So in defense of their education, I will lay it out this way since my little post above was picked up and tossed about  by folks who golf, have disposable money out the wazzu, go to and post about Fusion VIP like its nothing, etc. Mind, you never see me posting that stuff at all. I’m not knocking anyone but let’s just say I hope one day to be able to do more than just look thru the windows at Bevans of London. LOL. But humour me for a second folks. 

This is about me and my spending. ONLY me. How you spend and what you earn is your business and I’ve never been one to care about another man’s pockets. I do far more charity work than most so don’t go there. This is only about me and my spending in the context of what I am about to say next. 

There are 22 items on our Breadbasket. For the longest time, there were actually 21 and to be honest, I’m not sure about the 22nd item because when I was on the Prices Commission, you know the body that oversees the actual breadbasket, yeah, that, BREAD WAS NOT A BREADBASKET ITEM based on the amount of sugar that was in it. Be that as it may.

Those 22 items are Baby cereal, baby food, baby formula, bread (suspect), broths & soups, butter, canned fish, cheese, condensed milk, cooking oil, corned beef, evaporated milk, flour, fresh milk, grits, margarine, mayonnaise, mustard, powdered detergent, rice, soap, tomato paste. That is the list. 

Again, this is only about me but feel free to apply to your own shopping habits. I do all the grocery shopping in my house. Whenever I meet you guys on this app, its often in the supermarket so anyone who knows or has met me knows this to be a fact. I don’t have babies in my house, so that eliminates the first three items. I do buy a loaf of bread when I shop, sometimes two. Yes, I pay $4.29 for one of my loaves. My kids love Healthy Choice chicken noodle soup so every other week, I will pick up about 6 cans at $2 dollars and something cents each but that’s not a weekly thing. I make soup so every other week, and I shop weekly, I may grab a container of broth. Salt free vegetable or chicken to be exact. $3 and change. It usually last more than one use. We don’t eat margarine and my wife limits my butter purchase to one stick of the garlic and herb Kerry Gold butter…$3 or so. My kids don’t care for mackerel but will eat it whenever I cook it, which isn’t all that much because we’re not trying to get cancer. So even though I love tuna, mackerel, corned beef, we seriously limit how much so maybe once a month or so we’ll have it. I made mackerel AND corned beef this week so that’s done for now. 

Yinna keeping score? I buy a can of cream (evaporated milk), probably once a month or so. I drink coffee black; my kids don’t put cream in their tea, they like flavours, and really, the cream is for whenever I make pasta with a creamy sauce. Once a month for that can. I buy a 5lb of flour that lasts me probably two months at a time maybe longer. I make pizza a couple times a month and pancakes or waffles every now and then if I have ripe bananas. I don’t bake bread. My kids need dumplings in their soup. I buy a bag of yellow grits from the store but since I’m usually eating grits with one or two people at a time because they never all want my lumpy grits, a bag from SV lasts for months. That’s about $3. I buy mayo maybe once a month or so. I buy mustard maybe three of four times a year. I don’t cook rice every day or every week but I’ll buy a 5 lb bag every other week or a small bag of jasmine rice or the regular 2lb Mahatma long grain. Yinna know the price and I hope you keeping score. 

A can of tomatoes paste in my fridge lasts a couple of weeks max. A bar of soap is probably 2 to 3 weeks usage so I’m always buying a few bars because everyone in my house uses something different. That leaves powdered detergent. My wife controls that purchase. Most of the times, she will demand the 40 loads Gain original or Island Fresh. $7 and change. When she’s behind, she’ll make me get the giant box that’s $20 something. 

That’s my purchasing habit for the breadbasket. NOT A SINGLE ITEM ON THAT LIST IS A WEEKLY PURCHASE except for bread….which I really seriously wondering how it got on the list to begin with. My cart is filled up with other stuff that don’t have nothing to do with the breadbasket. Yours too.

Must I remind anyone that when you go to Bamboo Shack or BK or KFC or anywhere that sells food, you’re not paying 12% anymore? Need a new battery for your Cube? 2% savings. Down the line, you will be paying less. Are the poor only buying these things? No. 

What is tone deaf is to think that those 21 items constitute the scope of what working-class people shop for, that they buy these and only these things. Tone-deaf is thinking that they don’t care about everything else they have to spend money on. That Cube or March or Passo will now cost you 2% less to buy. 

Imagine how much margarine you could buy with those savings. Wait, don’t imagine. I’m not watching your spending, remember.