DOHA: Responding to a public outcry demanding strict measures to curb any arbitrary hike in the prices of goods and services in the local market following the recent hike in the salaries of Qatari government employees, the Cabinet has decided to form a committee at the Ministry of Business and Trade to tackle this issue.
The committee will be responsible for “monitoring the prices of goods and services and implementing appropriate mechanism to maintain stability,” the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs H E Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud said, while announcing the decision yesterday.
He said the decision to set up the committee was taken on the basis of a directive by the Deputy Emir and Heir Apparent H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to “reduce the unjustified increase in the prices of some commodities and services,” following the salary hike and “deal firmly with this phenomenon which harms the citizens’ interests.”
The Cabinet decision has been hailed by many as a timely move that will instill confidence among consumers and bring stability in the market.
The hefty salary hike had triggered widespread fears about an imminent price hike in the market and even prompted a group of citizens to launch an awareness campaign through social networking sites.
Several citizens have been calling for a new body with more powers to monitor the market, having had the feeling that the Consumer Protection Department (CPD) had failed to act. Several Qatari businessmen, while welcoming the Cabinet decision, hoped that the new committee would compliment the efforts of the CPD and put a permanent mechanism to check any unjustifiable hike in the prices.
“This is a good initiative from the government. We hope that the new panel would be effective and put a permanent mechanism to regulate the prices. The committee should monitor the prices of not only the consumer goods but also various services,” Nasser Al Meer of the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QCCI) told The Peninsula yesterday.
He said the QCCI at its meeting on Monday had discussed this issue and decided to set up a panel to do a comparative study of the prices before and after the salary hike.
Abdullah Abdul Aziz Al Khater, another prominent Qatari businessman said the new committee should tackle the issue “in a comprehensive way keeping the principles of the free market in view.”
“There are ways to control the market without putting a ceiling on the prices. We hope the new committee would effectively tackle the issue by preventing monopolies to protect the rights of the consumers,” Al Khater told Al Sharq.
Hamad Salman Al Hajari, a Qatari investor said the new panel would supplement CPD’s efforts to control the market and ensure that the prices will not be hiked without any justification.
“Qatar has an open market and the prices must be subject to the market factors. The prices can not be hiked only to cash in from a salary hike,” said Al Hajari.
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