People spend around QR900m ($247.2m) on food alone in the fasting month of Ramadan, while food consumption in the remaining 11 months of the year is only worth QR450m.
There is colossal waste of food in the fasting month when people are supposed to eat less and exercise self-restraint, Al Sharq reported yesterday.
The wastage is largely due to overspending by nationals, said the daily, quoting market sources and experts.
And they (nationals) spend around $450m every year on vacationing and shopping overseas. Some 50 percent of them rely on bank loans to finance their travels and shopping.
Figures released by the banking regulator, Qatar Central Bank, suggest that Qatari banks give away $583.3m worth of personal loans on average every month, said the daily.
Experts, while maintaining that these are “alarming” indications of growing consumerism in the Qatari community, have called for the authorities concerned to increase public awareness.
Lack of awareness is largely to be blamed for the alarming rise in consumerism, so the Consumer Protection Department of the Ministry of Business and Trade must focus its energies on the issue and launch a drive to control overspending among nationals, they said.
Engineer Ali Bahzad, reacting to the trend, said he found it disturbing that most Qatari families failed to keep a balance between their income and expenditure.
“One must save at least 10 percent of one’s income every month,” he said, adding that personal and family finance and budgeting should be included in the school curriculum.
“I think it is very important for people to be taught personal and family budgeting at an early stage of their life when they are in school,” he said.
If there is no balance between income and expenditure, one can face a severe financial crisis with the result that one has to rely on loans.
“One thus gets into a vicious debt trap that never ends,” said Bahzad.
Media person Ibrahim Alashoor said people in the GCC countries lived simple lives before the oil find. The oil income changed not only their lifestyle for worse but also their customs and even religious traditions, he said.
“That’s why they tend to spend so much on food during Ramadan whereas in reality the spending should be lower than that in any normal month,” said Alashoor. Dr Abdul Hafiz Abdul Rahim said that while consumer spending was down 25 percent in the West and the developing world last year due to the global economic crisis, it went up in the GCC region.
He blamed the banks for encouraging consumerism by liberally disbursing personal loans and credit cards.
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