Local groceries or baqala, popular in residential areas for their convenience, will soon be unable to charge more than hypermarkets and co-operatives for basic commodities, according to a government official.The Ministry of Economy (MoE) will launch an awareness campaign aimed at educating grocery owners on consumer laws, especially the price caps on selected commodities imposed by the government, said Dr Hashim Al Nuaimi, director of the Consumer Protection Department at MoE.
"They don't speak Arabic. They must be educated on the law, but this will take time. We will start after Ramadan," he said during an inspection of the Sharjah Co-operative Society in Helwan, as part of a series of trips to monitor prices and make sure outlets are abiding by the consumer protection law.Al Nuaimi said the government initiative to freeze prices of more than 1,000 commodities across hypermarkets and co-operatives also applied to groceries — who traditionally charge higher prices for the convenience of location and home deliveries.
Pointing to a bundle of parsley, Al Nuaimi said: "Green leaves are usually expensive during Ramadan. Now it's 95 fils… if groceries are selling them for Dh4, it's a violation. Tell me where they are and I will fine them."However, he said it was not practical to have inspections of hundreds of groceries around the UAE and urged consumers to complain about raised prices through the Consumer Protection hotline.
"Come to the big outlets because prices are fixed. Why would you go to a grocery that charges higher when prices here are fixed?" he said.Al Nuaimi said the 23 branches of the Sharjah Co-operative Society across Kalba to Sharjah city all offer fixed prices. "The co-operative is taking on a big responsibility to freeze prices and it pays from its own pocket."
There is a 20 to 30 per cent decline in prices in Sharjah during Ramadan compared to the same period last year, he said."There is a balance in the market. Price-fixing has created a parallel market," he said, urging shoppers to come to the outlets that support this initiative rather than the more expensive groceries.Al Nuaimi said he was satisfied with the prices and availability of basic goods such as sugar, rice and flour at the Sharjah Co-operative Society.Shoppers gearing up to buy traditional Eid sweets or new clothes can expect prices to remain stable, according to Al Nuaimi."We have controls during Eid, prices will not rise," he said, referring to retailers that inflate prices during the season.
The results of a campaign launched by the MoE aimed at tailor shops and abaya stores across the UAE will be are expected within two days, he said. "I expect the reports to be good."
Asked if the ministry is taking action against cafes and Ramadan tents that are charging higher prices for shisha during Ramadan, he said: "If consumers find the prices increasing, they should contact the ministry and complain on the consumer protection hotline."
Consumers can report price violations to the ministry via the hotline 600 522225.
From / Gulf News