The president of the executive council of the Territorial Collectivity of Martinique (CTM) on Thursday, December 7, asked the State to freeze the prices of basic necessities on the island where the high cost of living is a major social issue. Serge Letchimy, the head of the local executive, sent a letter to the prefect of the island of the Antilles to request “the implementation of articles L. 410-2 of the commercial code in order to block the prices of primary products necessity in Martinique. This request concerns “food products” and “health products and medicines,” according to the letter.
Food, the prices of which were 40% higher in Martinique compared to France in 2022, according to INSEE, represents one of the main items of expenditure for Martinique households. These prices were up 7.6% year-on-year in October 2023 on the island. Health prices, which represent 12% of a Martinique household's expenses, are also 13% higher than in mainland France, according to INSEE statistics. In his argument, the president of the Martinique executive highlighted the high level of poverty and precariousness in Martinique where 34,500 households benefit from the RSA. Some 27% of the population live below the poverty line, according to INSEE. That is to say a rate “twice higher than the national average”, recalls Serge Letchimy.
The request from the head of the Martinique executive will be debated on December 21 in a plenary session of the Martinique Assembly. Questioned Thursday evening, the prefecture of Martinique had not yet formulated a response to the request of the leader of the territorial majority. Last July, the State and distributors concluded a new agreement concerning the quality-price shield (BQP), a system to combat inflation in the Overseas Territories. This system guarantees a moderate price for 134 products in supermarkets, around thirty more products than in 2022. Martinique had seen a resumption of inflation in 2022, of 4% over the year, driven by products oil (17.8%) and food (5.4%). This index, however, remains at a level lower than that of France as a whole (5.2%) over the period.