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Posted On: 30 June 2013 08:14 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:13 pm

Ministry imposes price freeze for Ramadan

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With an additional 45 new items, the Ministry of Business and Trade has imposed a price freeze on 320 food and non-food items during Ramadan this year. According to sources, outlets have been asked to sell the fair price items 10 percent less compared to their retail prices.The Ramadan fair price list will be effective from July 1 until the end of the holy month.The list includes wheat flour, rice, edible oil, white meat, frozen vegetables and non-food items such as detergents, aluminium foil, tissue paper, among other items.Fresh fruits and vegetables, which are more in demand during Ramadan, are not included in the list. The price freeze imposed by the Ministry of Business and Trade on a number of food and non-food items during Ramadan is aimed at benefiting the consumer, but it comes as a boon for many small outlets as they stock up on these items at discounted rates so they can sell them at higher prices after the holy month. According to traders, prices of fruits and vegetable fluctuate on daily basis, which is why it is difficult to fix them.The ministry, under which falls the Consumer Protection Department (CPD), has been fixing maximum retail prices of basic food and non-food items of daily use during the holy month for several years to prevent possible price hike by greedy traders during Ramadan.The initiative was taken after increasing public complaints that retailers and wholesalers take undue advantage of the higher demand in the fasting month. Many consumers said that although they are able to buy basic food items at discounted prices in Ramadan, prices of fruits and vegetables shoot up during the holy month, which is why maintaining family budget was still a challenge.According to health experts, the intake of food soars during the fasting month, resulting in multiple health problems for many people, with heart problems and diabetes most common.“We spend twice as much on grocery shopping during Ramadan compared to other months of the year,” said Ahmed Zia. “Families usually make special efforts to serve those food items in Ramadan which they don’t make on regular days of the year.”He said that Iftar parties have also become more extravagant over the years, which ultimately affect the total amount spent on food items. “Even though Ramadan is supposed to be a spiritual month where our focus should be on praying, it seems like most family practices have come to transform it into a month of festivity in which all the attention is paid on what people eat instead of what they do during the holy month,” Zia added.He said the more serious problem was among the youth, who mostly spent time on eating after breaking their fast. Some consumers, however, said the difference in prices is not very clearly seen in small grocery shops or neighbourhood stores.“Some items surprisingly become more expensive in Ramadan,” he lamented.According to a source, neighbourhood stores remain unaffected by the fair price list.Even though they don’t have the choice except to obey orders of the ministry during one month, they make up for the losses during the remaining months of the year. Some said one way through which these shops recover their losses is by increasing prices of items not listed for reduction.“Fast-moving consumable goods (FMCG) are imported items, so they do not have uniform prices. Even the difference of half a Qatari riyal can have a huge impact on profits,” he said. Most people do not keep track of prices in neighbourhood stores, which vary from one store to another all over the county.“Small grocery shops work in a competitive environment. They are running businesses after all and not charity organisations. They have to find ways to make profits no matter what,” he added. As per the new price list, edible oil (1.8 litres) is priced between QR16.50 and QR17.50 depending on the brand.Prices of QFM wheat floor No 1 and 2 (5kg bag) have been fixed at QR16 and No 3 at QR19. Prices of all brands of fresh milk have been fixed at QR10 (two litres).Long life milk (four litres) costs between QR12.25 and QR12.50 and QR9 and QR10 (two litres).A five-kg bag of Panjab Garden basmati rice costs QR30.50, Sunwhite rice QR32.75, Cleopatra Egyptian rice QR26, and Abu Saifain basmati rice QR36. A 10kg Tilda Pure basmati rice costs QR127 and 20kg India Gate basmati rice is priced at QR241.Aminah Abdul Wahab said that she gives special attention to preparing food for family during the holy month. “Families prepare special feasts for Suhoor and Iftar in the fasting month.“It’s one month of the year that Muslims families look forward to the most. “Naturally, they do their best to serve the best food items,” she said, adding that Ramadan is a month when most families get together.One crate of Qatari eggs (30 pieces) costs QR12.25 and Emirates fresh eggs cost QR16.25. Canned fruit juices of different brands (1.75 to two litres) cost QR7. A 40kg Khory Indian rice is priced at QR277 and Mohammed basmati rice QR300.Prices of Sadia Chicken (frozen) have been fixed at QR13.50 per kg.All Waha (fresh) costs QR15.75, Doux frozen chicken QR11, Seara frozen chicken QR13, and Al Islami frozen chicken QR13.75. Aminah said in recent years some families in Qatar had also picked up a new trend of going to restaurants and hotels during Ramadan.“Previously it was just Iftar deals, but many restaurants now also come up with special packages for Suhoor, which attract many people, especially the younger generation,” she added. Source : Qatar Chronicle