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Posted On: 15 September 2009 04:04 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:10 pm

Consumers want price freeze on more items

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As the prices of meat, fruits and vegetables continue to fluctuate in the local market, several nationals and residents have called for the price freeze imposed by the Ministry of Commerce and Trade before Ramadan to be applied to these items as well. The Cabinet recently set up a committee to study controlling of the prices of essential commodities in the market on a permanent basis. The study was initiated in response to a recent call by the Heir Apparent H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani for concrete steps to prevent the prices of essential commodities from soaring. While welcoming the Cabinet’s decision, respondents in a survey conducted by the Al Sharq newspaper called for steps to expand the price freeze to food items that are not included in the ministry’s list. Suhail Hassan Shawish, a respondent, said the prices of meat, fruits and vegetables remain high and the traders are still able to manipulate them. “Since there is no control on the prices of these items, traders are hiking the prices to compensate for the losses incurred by them due to the price freeze on other commodities,” said Shawish. Yousuf Al Nuaimi said the prices of some vegetables had shot up by up to 200 percent with the beginning of Ramadan. A further hike is expected ahead of Eid Al Fitr. He said a box of lettuce, which was priced at QR25 before Ramadan, now cost QR50. Prices of carrot, kousa and some other items that are more in demand during Ramadan have also seen a sharp rise. Dr Saad Mohammed Khalil, an expert from the General Secretariat for Development Planning, called for measures to monitor the prices through all the stages, beginning from import to distribution in the retail market. There was need for an in-depth study on how the prices were fixed in the countries of origin, in the wholesale market and, finally, by the retailers, he said. “We are for free market, but it does not mean that traders should be allowed to play with the prices. Price control is necessary for the benefit of the consumers,” said Khalil. Hamad Al Hajiri, another respondent, called for amending the law to impose more stringent punishment on those who try to manipulate the prices. The existing law was introduced about a decade ago and the provisions were not sufficient to meet the current requirements, he said.