Outlets violating the price guidelines issued by the Ministry of Business and Trade for 104 food items for Ramadan should better fall in line as ministerial inspectors armed with judicial powers might soon swoop on them posing as ordinary buyers.
According to a prominent lawyer who is also a former member of the Central Municipal Council (CMC), there is every possibility that inspectors would be conducting raids on the sly, especially on smaller outlets, to check compliance.
Abdul Rahman Al Jefairi told The Peninsula yesterday that people should also actively cooperate and report violations to the Ministry on its hotline.
Butcheries, particularly, manipulate meat prices during the fasting month so there is the need to keep them under check. This happens because the demand for meat goes up considerably this month. “Traders should show mercy on consumers during the holy month,” he said.
Asked if retailers could hike the prices of commodities other than those figuring on the list of 104 items, the lawyer said the possibility cannot be ruled out, so the government should come out with another rule making price manipulations illegal.
He, though, said he hoped that most outlets will be abiding by the price guidelines of the trade ministry due to the fear of legal action being initiated against them.
Meanwhile, an economist Hamad Al Hajri has warned of vegetable price hikes in the days to come. He told a local Arabic daily that vegetable prices were already shooting up on the eve of the holy month and he feared they might double in the days to come.
Of price guidelines issued by the trade ministry for 104 items, he said the restrictions should apply to outlets round the year and not during Ramadan alone.
The daily said that many retailers were not abiding by the price guidelines. And since prices of essentials generally remained high in the country a lot of citizens were visiting Al Hasa in Saudi Arabia which is close to the Qatari-Saudi border, to buy provisions.
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