While public opinion remains divided on the effectiveness of the price freeze for essential commodities introduced by the Ministry of Commerce and Trade ahead of Ramadan, the Consumer Protection Department at the Ministry has promised more practical steps in the next few days to check the prices from soaring.
The assurance gains significance in the context of the call given by the Heir Apparent,
H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, for further steps to control the prices.
Sheikh Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani, director of the Consumer Protection Department, has claimed that the price freeze, despite its short duration, has been successful in curbing a price rise during Ramadan.
“The decision was a success in bringing the prices down. Major shopping outlets have responded positively to the move. They are selling some of the products at cost. This time we didn’t see the usual price hike that happens during high demand and on special occasions like Ramadan,” Al Sharq quoted Sheikh Jassim as saying.
An online survey conducted by the daily on the price freeze, however, had 79 percent of the respondents saying that they didn’t feel any impact on the ground. Eleven percent of the participants said there was an impact while 10 percent didn’t express any opinion.
“We will exert more efforts in the next few days so that the effect of the decision will become more apparent on the ground,” added Al Thani.
The Department has several plans and programmes that will be implemented in a phased manner. “We are planning to introduce some new ideas to encourage competition in the market. This will benefit the consumers in terms of the quality and prices of commodities,” said Al Thani.
He said the decision to issue weekly lists showing prices of major commodities at leading shopping outlets was a move intended to encourage competition as well as inform the public.
The weekly price lists for 10 leading outlets are now available on the ministry’s website for the public to view. This will help people make the best choices and save a lot of time, money and energy in their regular shopping.
Meanwhile, several consumers who have appreciated the price freeze, have urged the authorities to bring all the retail outlets under strict monitoring.
“The decision was a success as far as some leading supermarkets and hypermarkets are concerned. However, the small groceries have not yet reduced the prices. All these shops should be brought under strict control to ensure that all consumers get the benefit of the decision,” said Mohammed Ashraf, a long-time resident.
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