Marwan AlSboosi, Director, Competition and Consumer Protection Department, Ministry of Economy during a pre-Ramadan media briefing in Dubai on Sunday. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Prices will not be allowed to rise in Ramadan while enough stocks will be guaranteed, the Ministry of Economy announced on Sunday.

To ensure compliance, the ministry plans 420 visits to outlets and markets nationwide before, during and after Ramadan, which is likely to begin on April 13 depending on the moon sighting.

Striking a balance

The announcements came during a media briefing on Sunday on consumer protection measures in the UAE, especially with regards to Ramadan. The briefing was led by Marwan AlSboosi, Director, Competition and Consumer Protection Department, Ministry of Economy. The measures aim to establish “a balanced relationship” between merchants and consumers across various markets in the country, including online shopping platforms.

Read More

Ramadan sales

A series of Ramadan discount campaigns have been announced by various cooperatives and outlets as a result of the ministry’s meetings with its partners from consumer cooperatives and outlets in the country. The discounts range between 25 to 75 per cent for many basic commodities, especially Ramadan goods.

The total number of goods covered by the campaigns in some outlets reaches up to 30,000. Several outlets have also announced the Ramadan baskets initiative, in the form of open baskets that allow consumer to choose products of their own choice or fixed baskets that include a specific group of high-demand commodities during Ramadan. On average, such offers range between Dh50 and Dh140, and will be announced continuously during Ramadan.

NAT RAMADAN FILE-1617537004190
People buy grocery at Sharjah Cooperative Society in Halwan area in Sharjah, for the month of Ramadan. Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News archives

Online shopping

AlSboosi said many associations and outlets offer special offers through their online shopping platforms. These will also help avoid crowding in outlets, which is essential to maintain social distancing and the required health precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic, he added.

Ongoing meetings

AlSboosi said the ministry has held around 29 meetings since the beginning of 2021, targeting traders of rice, flour, sugar, meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, juices and the like. These meetings were aimed at raising the level of coordination with all suppliers and traders; exchanging information on markets that are exporting to the UAE; and reviewing their plans to ensure the availability of goods to meet the needs of markets.

Ramadan preparations

The discussions focused on preparations for Ramadan, ensuring stability of prices and preventing any unjustified price hikes. During the meetings, suppliers confirmed their commitment to addressing the needs of the local markets in terms of commodities and product requirements and taking the necessary measures to avoid any shortage of basic commodities throughout the year, especially during Ramadan. These will help meet the expected rise in demand during Ramadan, thus maintaining stability of prices.

Flow of fruits

The average daily import of vegetables and fruits to Dubai during the Ramadan season is around 17,000 tonnes, while the import to Abu Dhabi is around 5,000 tonnes on a daily basis. The total volume of the currently available stock of vegetables and fruits is around 130,000 tonnes.

Consumer rights

Consumers can reach the ministry’s call centre at 8001222 to report malpractices related to consumer rights, submit complaints, and put forward their suggestions and observations, he said.

The total number of complaints resolved so far this year in various emirates reached 1,412. He said the ministry is working on an initiative to unify consumer complaints procedures at the national level in partnership with other authorities, and focusing on reducing the time taken to address them.

Satisfied shoppers

The level of satisfaction with laws, legislation and initiatives implemented by the Competition and Consumer Protection Department rose to 87 per cent in 2020 from 82 per cent in 2019.