A new barcode system will be introduced at stores and supermarkets to prevent retailers from raising prices, a top government official told Gulf News.
Dr Hashim Saeed Al Nuaimi, Director-General of the Consumer Protection Department in the Ministry of Economy, said the barcodes would link Dubai Customs to his department.
This will allow officials to check the quantity of a particular product being brought into the country, the process of its sale and whether there is a shortage.
The system will monitor 650 commodity prices daily, of which 15 essential products are subject to price caps. These include rice, wheat, sugar, flour, milk, tea, chicken, meat, oil, bread, eggs and bottled water.
"Merchants and retailers will not be able to raise prices to profit at the expense of consumers [once] the electronic monitoring system is in place," Al Nuaimi said.
The electronic monitoring system will be implemented in collaboration with co-operative societies and major retail outlets, including Spinneys, Carrefour, LuLu Hypermarket and Choithrams, which together account for 80 per cent of the retail market.
Al Nuaimi said the ministry will take tough action against errant retailers to fight price increases.
The Ministry of Economy will impose hefty fines if retailers are found increasing or manipulating prices in violation of the ministry's rules. The fines will range from Dh5,000 to Dh100,000, he added.
Al Nuaimi said limiting price increases, seeking fair competition among retailers and combating monopolies were priorities of the ministry.
"The UAE government will take tough action against retailers who are found engaged in price manipulation," said Mohammad Ahmad Bin Abdul Aziz Al Shehi, U ndersecretary in the Ministry of Economy.
In case of violations, penalties are imposed on the trader in accordance with the consumer protection law. Al Shehi said that the ministry had not received any complaints.
As part of the precautionary measures, the ministry has installed hotlines nationwide to help consumers file complaints about increases in prices. The number of inspections will also be raised.
"The Ministry of Economy has hired special teams to monitor the performance of the campaign in cooperation with local departments. Follow-ups will be on a daily basis through visits to retail outlets to make sure that all outlets are compliant," Al Nuaimi said.
Vigil: Tough steps
- 650 - commodity pricesto be monitored
- 15 - essential products subject to price caps
- 80% - of retailers will becovered under the system
Hashim Al Nuaimi, Director-General of Consumer Protection Department at the Ministry of Economy, urged customers who had a complaint to call the ministry's consumer protection hotline on 600 522225.