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22 August 2010 10:22 am

Ramadan price freeze not effective: Poll

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22 August 2010 DOHA: While the authorities insist that the price freeze for 156 food and non-food items imposed ahead of the holy month of Ramadan has been effective, a large number of people do not subscribe to this view, according to a recent survey. Eighty-five percent of the respondents in an online poll conducted by Al Sharq daily said they didn't believe the price freeze was being implemented properly. Only nine percent of the respondents said that shops were selling the goods at the prices fixed by the Ministry of Business and Trade. A senior official of the Consumer Protection Department at the Ministry recently claimed that most shops, including small groceries, were abiding by the Ministry's guidelines. Some respondents to the survey, however, said they had found different prices in different shops for certain goods covered by the price freeze. Several shopkeepers, especially those in remote areas, are not aware of the price freeze. "There is a difference of QR1 or QR2 in the prices of some commodities in some small shops compared to the major shopping centres," said an expatriate. Some others were critical of the hike in the prices of fruits and vegetables, which are not included in the Ministry's list. "Doctors advise consuming more fruits and vegetables during Ramadan, but unfortunately the prices remain high. The government should do something to control the prices of these essential items," said Abdul Baqi, an Arab expatriate. Another respondent, Izzuddin Al Sheikh, said there were variations in the prices of traditional Ramadan items such as dates, figs and dry fruits in different shops. Some respondents were, however, appreciative of the price freeze, saying it had helped stabilise prices in the local market during the fasting month. A businessman said the traders had been forced to follow the prices fixed by the Ministry despite the fact that there was no uniformity in the prices charged by the suppliers. "The price freeze has helped build confidence among the customers," he added. © The Peninsula 2010 http://www.zawya.com