No official support to consumer bodies in the Gulf, says survey

ABU DHABI — GCC states have marked the beginning of the week-long Consumer Protection Day yesterday. The issue of spiralling costs of living in the emirates is being brought to the fore, with mounting concerns amid further price hikes.

By Atef Hanafi

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Published: Thu 2 Mar 2006, 10:24 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 7:24 PM

Besides, a recent study showed consumer protection societies have almost no support from official agencies. The field study conducted by the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which covered various sectors, categories, nationalities and age groups, showed that 98 per cent of the respondents in the 2005 survey think that the prices of foodstuff items and consumer products are ‘unreasonable’, and that there are constant price hikes.

Results of the survey also showed that there was an 18 per cent rise in monthly expenditures on consumer items as a result of the price increases. The study attributed the increases to hikes in rents of residential units and shops, monopoly of consumer products by a closed set of agents and distributors, and the absence of a monitoring body to keep a watchful eye on prices. It also cited the weakness of measures against violators as another reason, but one of the most important factors is the inefficiency of the Consumer Protection Society as it lacks sufficient support.

The effects of inflation at the global level is also affecting UAE markets, the study said. This, it added, is because of the dependence on imported consumer products, and rising inflation levels to 4.6 per cent in 2004. Meanwhile, sales by shopping malls in 2005 reached Dh4 billion, while sales figures of cooperative societies reached Dh900 million. Cooperative societies, through their nine main outlets and 42 branches, played a role in curbing prices, and this was apparent in the dairy products crisis late last year.

Saif Khalfan bin Sabt, Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy for Companies and Monitoring Affairs, said that most countries were moving towards special legislation to protect consumer rights. He said the proposed federal law on consumer protection would provide protection to rights endorsed by the UN, with socio-economic dimensions of each country being taken into consideration.

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