All food essentials are covered by the Ministry of Economy's checks. More than 40 outlets and co-operative society outlets are covered as part of this. Image Credit: Pixabay

Dubai: Retail prices of 300 essential commodities from 11 categories, including grains and bread, will need to be kept in check, according to the Ministry of Economy. Any retailer found flouting these requirements will be subject to penalties.

More than 40 outlets and cooperative societies in the UAE are monitored to keep the prices of these goods in check. The selling prices of the essential commodities must match those shown in the registered database and with consumer prices in neighboring countries. The Ministry is also working to develop a shared digital database for commodity prices in the GCC to ‘ensure flexible, fast and continuous price comparisons’.

They must also match the price of these commodities with the FAO International Price Index for the most traded commodities in the world.

The move comes as commodity prices come under intense pressure from the Russia-Ukraine situation and the legacy of the logistics disruption from COVID-19 in 2020-21.

New policy on pricing
The Ministry of Economy has also approved a new policy on the pricing mechanism for basic consumer goods.

These goods are divided into two main groups: the first is subject to the condition of prior approval in the event the supplier desires to raise its price as a result of the high import costs.

In this case, they are required to apply for an approval via the Ministry of Economy website, through a system that is specifically designated for this service.

The applicants must submit all evidence and data related to the increase in cost and their cause. The Ministry will then do a review of the justifications and then decide on the approval and the percentage of approved price hike.

This group includes 11,000 commodities including fresh and dry milk, fresh chicken and eggs, bread, flour, sugar, salt, rice and legumes, cooking oil, mineral water and others.

Check and re-store

The key categories coming under the price checks are fish and seafood, meat and poultry, bread, grains and their products, dairy, cheese, eggs, oils, vegetables and fruits, water, juices, and cleaning materials.

“The Ministry assesses the extent to which these items are affected by international developments and price fluctuations in their countries of origin,” it said in a statement. Simultaneously, it will monitor ‘steep fluctuations’ in prices and ensure the availability of these commodities in ‘abundant quantities to effectively meet the needs of consumers in the country and maintaining the strategic stock of basic commodities’.

A second category
A second category of designated goods is exempt from needing prior approval for a price rise.

These goods were chosen based on their abundance, high price competitiveness, and the large number of suppliers of these goods to ensure the existence of multiple alternatives in various markets of the country.

"This guarantees the stability of their prices in a natural way according to market mechanisms," the Ministry said.

This group includes biscuits, chocolates, confectionaries of all kinds, some cheese products, frozen food products, juices and ice cream, tea, coffee, cocoa and its products, wheat, oats, potato chips, and household cleaning materials and tools of all kinds.