ECONOMY / Cost of living in SXM: the INSEE report is debated

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In March and April 2022, INSEE carried out for the first time a comparative survey on consumer prices in Saint-Martin compared to mainland France. Last Monday, Jean-Baptiste Herbet, interregional director INSEE Antilles Guyana, presented to the press, elected officials and socio-professional partners the results of this survey which was not unanimous.

The restitution took place in the presence of the 1st vice-president of the Community, Alain Richardson, in his capacity as president of the Territorial Institute of Statistics and Economic and Economic Studies of Saint-Martin (ITSEE), Philippe Winnicki, newly appointed director of the ITSEE, the 2nd vice-president Bernadette Davis, certain territorial advisors and socio-professional representatives such as the CCISM and the Tourism Club. The spatial comparison of prices between Saint-Martin and mainland France,  carried out between March 1 and April 22, 2022 by six investigators hired by the Community and trained by INSEE, takes into account 2.500 readings for 400 families of products sold in mass distribution, specialized stores, small stores and markets in the region . On average, consumer prices in Saint-Martin are 12% higher than in mainland France (compared to 16% in Guadeloupe, 14% in Martinique and Guyana, 10% in Mayotte and 9% in Réunion). . This percentage was strongly contested by several actors present under the justified pretext that the standard basket used for the comparison is based on the consumption habits of Guadeloupeans, due to the lack of data available for the Saint-Martin basket. The most significant gap is in the food sector with prices 47% higher in Saint-Martin. Dairy products, meat, pastries, grain products and non-alcoholic drinks are the foods that contribute the most to this gap. The prices of tobacco and alcoholic beverages are 33% lower in the territory, two products which are nevertheless mainly consumed by passing tourists.

For housing, prices are 21% higher, although water costs are more expensive than electricity and gas. Leisure and culture reach a higher percentage of 27%, hotels and restaurants 22%, health 11% and finally, telecommunications services with a high higher percentage of 43%. Another figure which aroused the skepticism of the assembly, that of transport which includes air, road, maintenance and repair of vehicles where prices are 13% lower. According to INSEE, Saint-Martin residents use their cars more (with fuel taxed at 12 euro cents per liter) than they take planes. For Alain Richardson, these results can be misleading given the reality on the ground and the feelings of residents. The recent creation of the ITSEE therefore represents a starting point for improving data and refining results. _VX

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