Ljajic: All pharmacies get masks; there may be price hike of tropical and citrus fruits
"I looked to buy parsley in my local grocery store and didn't find it, but I can't say there's a parsley shortage"
Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications Rasim Ljajic said that pharamcies will get stocked with protective masks this week, and that there are no shortages at all of essential foods.
Speaking for RTS, Ljajic stressed that protective masks are not only the most sought-after good in Serbia, but also around the world, stating that the price of one mask in the US has jumped from 60 cents to 7 dollars. He explained that the problem occurred at the global level, because factories in China stopped producing masks when the coronavirus pandemic began, and are only now starting to make them again.
According to him, Turkey, which is the world's second largest producer has stopped exporting until it satisfies domestic demand.
"We expect a new shipment of 10 million masks from China this week. The good news is that local manufacturers have started production. I expect masks from China in pharmacies this week and this will not be the only delivery. We expect commercial deliveries from China as well," Ljajic explained.
When it comes to tropical and citrus fruits, he indicated that there will certainly be slowdowns in the supply chain and perhaps price increases due to higher demand, as well as the price of transport.
"Passenger traffic is suspended, but not the transport of goods," he added.
Asked if there is a worldwide shortage of coffee, as some media outlets are saying, Ljajic said he believed the same explanation applied to coffee.
He said none of the retail chains indicated to him that there is a coffee shortage or that this could become a problem in the future.
"I don't expect a shortage, but I expect there will be an increased in buying coffee after your question, because the more important question is whether there will be no coffee, than my answer that there is no problem," Ljajic added.
The interviewer noted that US President Donald Trump has signed a law banning the stockpiling of essential foodstuffs and asked whether something of the kind is possible in our country, Ljajic said that this has not been taken into consideration, but that a series of measures have been taken.
Asked about the shortage of onion and garlic, Ljajic said that he looked for parsley in his local grocery store yesterday and didn't find it, but that he couldn't say there is a parsley shortage.
"Not everything is available in all the stores even under the best conditions. You can find basic food items in every municipality. If we search for what's missing, I'll find 50 stores where you can't find a specific product. I'm making an appeal, this is an emergency and we must be patient," he said.
Regarding the news about the seizure by Poland and the Czech Republic of medical equipment intended for Italy, Ljajic said he saw the news, but that it seemed too surreal to him.
Regarding tourism, he pointed out that the president of Serbia has announced a package of economic measures and part of it will refer to this sector, which is one of the most affected.
He recalled that there were already measures in place to help the economy, such as a moratorium on loan repayment, and expressed confidence that the Development Fund money would become available.
Asked about "stores for pensioners" he said he was sure the stores would be open to them (for several hours a week) in the same period in the future.
Video: 10,000 masks arrive in two pharmacies
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