Importers, wholesalers and retailers mulling increasing the prices of essentials will soon require permission from the Ministry of Business and Trade.
The proposed move reflects the government’s intention to closely monitor the market and keep prices under check for the benefit of the common man.
The Ministry also hopes to actively intervene in the market and fix the retail prices of essentials.
The Ministry is busy setting up a key committee which will receive requests from traders to jack up prices, particularly of essentials goods. Currently, the members of the panel are being decided and its functions are being worked out in detail.
The state cabinet gave its nod for forming the committee some three months ago. Its functions will also be to identify commodities that need to be subsidised.
The panel would frequently conduct studies to find out why some commodities of daily consumption are sold at a lower price in neighbouring countries.
This was disclosed by Sheikh Jassem bin Jaber Al Thani, Director of the Consumer Protection Department at the Ministry of Business and Trade.
In remarks to Al Sharq, he said yesterday that the prices of essentials remained relatively high in Qatar primarily due to skyrocketing shop rents. There is a severe shortage of commercial space, the director said.
Although house rents have dropped almost 40 percent from their peak, commercial property rentals have been going up, added Sheikh Jassem. There is an acute shortage of shops in Doha due to large-scale demolitions, so their demand is soaring due to increasing economic activity.
Transportation and other costs like storage add to the operating costs of businesses, while the Qatari market remains small. But the Vice-Chairman of the Central Municipal Council (CMC), Jassem Al Malki, told the daily that the talk of the Qatari market being small was baseless since the number of people here had increased.
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