Dubai: Some 1,600 food items are to be sold at fixed prices at 340 outlets across the country until the end of 2012, a Ministry of Economy official announced.
Dr Hashim Al Nuaimi, Director of the Consumer Protection Department, said that the department’s inspection campaign seeks to ensure that there are no violations and that outlets don’t overcharge customers, particularly during the Ramadan period.
Some greedy people exploit people’s increased buying habits and increase the prices of foodstuff
He said inspections of late had not led to the imposition of any fines but multiple warnings had been issued.
He said it was easy to fine people, but what really mattered was to ensure compliance. “We do not issue fines for first-time violators, we warn them first and monitor them, if we see that they raise the price again, we fine them; then if it happens a third time, we shut them down and take them to court,” Al Nuaimi said at a press conference at the headquarters of Emirates Cooperative Society yesterday as part of the Ramadan food pricing announcement.
Outlets not abiding by the price list indicated by the Ministry of Economy risk fines of between Dh5,000 to Dh100,000 depending on the type of violation. “Any increase in food prices is illegal, as it is not approved by the government,” Al Nuaimi said.
Al Nuaimi said that the consumer protection department has plans and schedules for both announced and surprise inspections. He announced that there will be inspections at vegetable and fruit markets in different emirates over the next week. “Sunday we will be in Abu Dhabi, Tuesday in Dubai and Wednesday in Sharjah. But sometimes we announce that we are visiting a certain place but we go to another.”
“Some greedy people exploit people’s increased buying habits and increase the prices of foodstuff.” Al Nuaimi said urging consumers to report any price increase or violation to the department’s hotline number.
Ramadan food baskets will be available in all retail outlets across the UAE, Al Nuaimi said. The baskets contain essential food items such as rice, sugar, milk, canned foods and cooking oil at discounted prices. “The Ramadan baskets are made so that one basket, which costs between Dh100- Dh200, would be sufficient for a family of five for an entire week, meaning that during the entire month of Ramadan a family of five can cover all its grocery needs with just Dh800,” Al Nuaimi explained.
Supermarkets and co-operative societies have launched special offers and discounts in preparation for Ramadan. For instance Emirates co-operative society has announced a discount campaign on 230 main foodstuffs for the period from July 13 until August 4.
Farid Al Shamandi, general manager of Emirates co-opertaives society, said that most of the items on offer are discounted between 20 to 50 per cent. “After this campaign ends, there are two others. The total amount of support provided or these campaigns is Dh7 million. This campaign is supported by the Ministry of Economy.”
Al Shamandi said the ministry will ensure that the discounted price list is adhered to and there is enough stock of discounted products to meet demand.
Other outlets that have launched discount schemes include, Carrefour, Panda, Lulu and Al Ittihad Union Cooperative Society.