Prices rise after inspections

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Prices rise after inspections

Year on year, hiking prices has become a regular trend during the holy month of Ramadan, with the prices of some products seeing a staggering 100 per cent mark up.

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Published: Wed 24 Jul 2013, 11:54 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 6:19 PM

The normal trend would see the price-rise range between 15 and 40 per cent but the consensus among most consumers this year is that the hikes are much higher than previous years.

And the soaring prices come off the back of the already hiked prices of sugar, chicken, eggs and meat, as well as clothes, despite advertisements of discounts, which shoppers described as ‘fictitious’.

Despite the widely publicised country-wide inspection campaign by the Consumer Protection Department of the Ministry of Economy this Ramadan, consumers say traders are increasing the prices of commodities soon after the inspectors leave the premises.

“I bought a T-shirt from a shop for Dh190, and two weeks later when I visited the same shop to buy the same shirt for my friend, I was surprised to see that it was being sold at Dh195 after the advertised offer said its price was discounted by 35 per cent”, one consumer said, adding that the fictitious discounts were merely for publicity.

As a result, a growing number of consumers have appealed to the authorities to intervene to prevent these traders from exploiting shoppers during the holy month.

While the Consumer Protection Department at the ministry said its inspection campaigns are continuing and that prices of items have gone down, consumers said sale outlets jack up the prices as soon as the inspectors leave the premises.

While on a visit to the markets and after listening to the views of consumers and traders, it appeared that prices of meat in Dubai and Sharjah markets shot up over the last few days, and are 28 per cent more than what was advertised before Ramadan.

Prices of fruits and vegetables have also suddenly risen, though consumers hoped to see their prices falling in Ramadan with the traders responding to the warnings of the ministry against hiking prices.

Some fruits and vegetables were sold at more than double their actual price. However, some retailers rejected the accusation of being behind these increases, saying some were selling the same commodities at cheaper rates, causing them losses.

Poor surveillance blamed

A visitor to the market, Arshad Mohammed, said poor surveillance encouraged sale outlets to hike prices and they would do so as soon as the inspection was over. Aiysha Ibrahim called for imposing deterrent punishments on traders found to impose big hikes on the prices of items. She also appealed to the authorities not to announce the inspection schedule, because traders change prices ahead of inspection, only to increase them again once it is over.

Traders blame suppliers

Many traders washed their hands of the issue and blamed suppliers for increasing the prices as the supplier is the only person who controls the price of a product on a daily basis, while the small traders say the big loser is the retail trader.

Vegetables trader Mohammed Abdul Maguid attributed the price hike on vegetables to the increase in the prices of supply.

“Supply companies increased the prices significantly especially tomatoes, squash on the pretext that they would be affected by the high temperature when stored ”, he said.

“Increasing demand coupled with the soaring temperatures caused the prices of products to shoot up”, said Rajesh Beeki, a fruits and vegetables trader. He, however, expected the prices to return to previous rates within the next few days.

“I used to buy a seven kilogramme box of Jordanian squash at a price ranging from Dh40 to Dh50, but the supply price was Dh70 last week”, Rajesh said.

Price comparison

In Dubai and Sharjah markets, it appeared that the price of a local box of cucumbers, weighing 2kg, was being sold at Dh10 (on Wednesday) compared to Dh5 and Dh6 on Tuesday, when officials of the consumer protection department toured the market.

The price of a box of squash from Jordan rose in a range between Dh20 and Dh25, compared with Dh13 and Dh15 — a rise of 92 per cent.

The price of a 2kg box of the Iranian produced aubergine plant (eggplant) rose to Dh10 as compared with Dh6 and Dh7 — a rise of 66 per cent.

The price of a 2kg green pepper box, originating from Jordan, rose to Dh15 compared with Dh11 and Dh12 — a rise of 82 per cent.

The price of Jordanian tomatoes shot up from a price ranging between Dh2.5 and Dh3 per kg to Dh5 — a 100 per cent increase, while the Iranian lettuce rose from Dh4 per kg to Dh5 and Dh6.

Prices of paper plants ranged between Dh1.25 and Dh1.5 compared with Dh2 — a rise of 50 per cent.

Cost of supply

An executive at a company for the wholesale supply of fruits and vegetables said some hikes are due to the cost of supply in the country of origin, while many increases were due to the sale outlets imposing big additional profit rates exploiting the rise in demand during the holy month of Ramadan.

“Prices of tomatoes at Fujairah Fruits and Vegetable Market saw a remarkable increase on Tuesday, as one box of tomatoes was being sold at Dh44 compared with Dh15 – Dh20 before Ramadan”, he said.

That means it rose 120 per cent due to its increased price in its country of origin (Jordan)”, said Dr Hashim Al Nuaimi, Director of the Consumer Protection Department at the MoE.

Surprise inspections

“The ministry has embarked on a plan to import tomatoes from India and Iran”, Dr Nuaimi disclosed.

“The ministry will launch extensive and surprised campaigns to make sure the prices of vegetables are not increased, and will confront any violators or attempts to exploit consumers”, he warned.

He said the price of meat is noticeably stable with no complaint of price hikes, but there was a rise in the prices of some varieties of fish, even though all species on demand are available during this time of the year.

Many sale outlets and shops were issued tickets for flouting rules, when the department conducting tours to fruits and vegetable markets and butcheries in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.

Complaints lodged by consumers in the first week of Ramadan rose 37 per cent, and accounted for 55 complaints on a daily basis. The rise in the number of complaints is a sign of increasing awareness among the consumers and the violations of traders.

“Complaints focused on the increase of prices of some vegetables and paper plants without stating food stuff or other consumer items. Dr Nuaimi appealed to the consumers to keep in touch with the consumer complaints call centre by calling 6005222256, which receives reports and attend calls from 8am to 1am (after midnight).

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