16 May 2012

Union ultimatum in New Caledonia over high cost of living

2:13 pm on 16 May 2012

The union movement in New Caledonia has given the government until the end of the month to decide on measures to reduce the high cost of living.

This comes nearly a year after 25,000 people took to the streets in an unprecedented territory-wide action to push for economic reforms.

The movement says it no longer wants little steps but demands an agreement by May the 31st that contains what it calls emblematic measures.

The warning comes amid efforts by several committees to find ways to curb costs, including work by French experts examining the perceived lack of competition.

One committee found that key factors for the inequality in the resource-rich territory were high import levies, inadequate taxation of capital, a lack of competition among wholesale distributors as well as high costs of transport and energy.

Unions have suggested regulating retail prices for hundreds of products to add to measures already in place such as a rent freeze and the lowering of charges for internet use.