Food prices are expected to fall during Ramadan as a result of competition and government price caps, a top official told Gulf News Sunday.
Hashim Al Nuaimi, Head of the Consumer Protection Department at the Ministry of Economy, said yesterday that more than 500 inspectors from the ministry and the Departments of Economic Development (DED) will visit the markets across the country daily during Ramadan to ensure retailers and traders were not raising prices.
His comments came during an inspection at the fruits and vegetable market at Al Mina in Abu Dhabi, which was undertaken by the ministry to monitor the prices of essential commodities.
Al Nuaimi also said that prices at markets and cooperative stores in the UAE are often lower than supermarkets — which could drive down prices across the board.
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"The prices of some of the vegetables and fruits at designated markets and outlets at cooperative sector are comparatively lower than supermarkets and hypermarkets now [which may trigger further competition]" he said.
He pointed out that cucumbers are sold at cooperative stores at Dh6 per kilogram whereas other outlets are selling the same for Dh8 to Dh10.
Meanwhile, many outlets have started selling ‘Ramadan basket' [with essential food items for Ramadan] at a reduced price which will also make an impact on the overall prices.
About 300 outlets across the country have already signed an agreement with the ministry to freeze the prices of essential foods until the end of this year and the ministry is ensuring that the agreement is being implemented, Al Nuaimi said.
During the inspections, he instructed the shopkeepers at the market to display the prices in bold letters. "Overall, the situation is satisfactory and there were no other violations at the market," he said.
At a press conference ahead of the inspection, the official said the ministry will take the measures to control the prices of meat during Ramadan.
In partnership with the Ministry of Environment and Water, the measures to test the quality of imported food are being taken, Al Nuaimi said.
He rejected media reports that there was about 20 per cent hike in meat prices recently.
The official explained that the prices of imported meat always change due to the fluctuations of the value of foreign currencies. Still he promised that he will investigate the reports.
He said the ministry is taking strict action on the complaints on overpricing.
Al Nuaimi explained that UAE being a free market economy, the government cannot fix the prices of each and every item.
"What we are doing is fixing certain limits so that items are not overpriced and consumers are protected," he said.
If retailers charge more than the approved prices of meat, even if it is just 50 fils more, strict action will be taken, Al Nuaimi explained.