Authorities shut down shops violating VAT laws in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi - 164 fines have been issued to businesses violating VAT.
A total of 164 fines have been given to businesses and shopkeepers violating the VAT law by unlawfully over-charging consumers. The Minister of Economy warned they are now closely observing all businesses across the country, issuing more fines and closing-down more shops.
During the Federal National Council (FNC) session held on Tuesday in the UAE Capital and chaired by the FNC Speaker, Dr Amal Abdullah Al Qubaisi, members questioned Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, the Minister of Economy, about the Ministry's role in insuring consumers' rights are protected and businesses are not using the VAT as an "excuse" to take advantage of the consumer's pocket.
"What is the Ministry doing to insure merchants are not putting abnormal prices on products, since the VAT was implemented?" Asked FNC member, Ahmed Al Nuaimi.
"This issue has been the talk of the hour this year, since the UAE is one of the first countries to apply the VAT in the GCC," replied the Minister.
The Minister of Economy pointed out that 164 fines have so far been issued to businesses violating VAT.
He also added that the Ministry has received 1918 complaints from consumers, although he did not stipulate the reasons for the majority of the complaints.
"We have conducted more than 13,000 visits to businesses and shops across the country, we are studying and reviewing, as well as comparing prices and monitoring any contradictions and violations."
Al Mansoori pointed out that there are more than 400 shops that are providing the Ministry with weekly price lists of products.
"The Ministry has made 13,370 visits to shops across the UAE to insure businesses are not violating the VAT. We have also issued 164 violations and conducted 241 campaigns."
"We have a system in place that follows the product prices and services."
He said any changes in prices are reviewed carefully and authorities will come-up with recommendations that strengthen the exchange of information between agencies.
The Minister also stressed that shops violating the VAT have also been closed, although he did not disclose the figure.
Al Mansoori added that there were also "incorrect" reports published, stating that by the end of 2017, the prices of some commodities had increased by a whopping 42 per cent before the VAT was implemented.
Al Nuaimi replied: "If these reports stating that prices have gone out of control are in fact incorrect as you said, then the Ministry should have responded and denied these reports - especially since the society is only talking about VAT this year."
Al Nuaimi said that coordination for consumer protection should have been conducted before implementing the VAT, in order to overcome any manipulations made by the merchants.
He argued that it is the role of the Ministry to insure the market prices are controlled.
"If the markets are actually monitored, then why are we waiting for complaints from consumers?"
"There should be a close observation over the markets and the Ministry shouldn't wait for the complaints from the consumers," added Al Nuaimi.
The FNC member thus called on the Ministry to abort any unlawful increases in prices set by businesses and to insure that consumers' rights are protected.
"The Ministry is working to solve all these problems, and although we are currently seeing certain challenges, we are solving thousands of cases and we have presented clear figures and evidence," said the Minister.
Also during Tuesday's session, the FNC passed a draft law on arbitration, which aims to ease the process of resolving commercial disputes, and helping reduce the number of cases before they are taken to court.