Regulation of UAE co-operative societies is being re-evaluated in part of the fight against the rising cost of living, according to the Minister of Economy.
Al Mansouri said the Ministry of Economy is evaluating the options of having a more effective regulatory mechanism by collaborating with local authorities and municipalities. Consumers were encouraged to report any unfair trade practice or unreasonable price rises.
The Minister also reiterated the comparative advantage offered to co-op societies, including government subsidy and custom-free regulations, which will help them to import essential food items such as rice and eggs, thus limiting inflationary pressure.
“The federal and local authorities along with the co-operative societies share the responsibility of controlling price rise and protecting consumers,” said Al Mansouri, adding that a strong co-operative sector will help stabilise prices and prevent monopoly trade practices. “The private sector can also play an important role in investing further in the food sector and enhancing import channels.”
Co-operative societies across the UAE launched on March 1 a three-week awareness festival under the slogan “Protecting Consumers”. The country-wide campaign is organised by the Consumer Co-operative Union (CCU), and aims at protecting the interests of the consumers and to promoting their trust in co-op societies.
“The co-op movement is trying to fight price rises for consumer products in the country and to protect market stability [by] making the consumer goods affordable to nationals and expatriates alike,” said Deputy Chairman of the CCU, Majid Rahma Al Shamisi.
This announcement came a few days before Emirates Society for Consumer Protection (ESCP) urged the government to subsidise basic food items as part of measures to control food price increases, which it expects to reach 40 per cent this year.
Inflation in the UAE hit a 19-year high of 9.3 per cent in 2006, and accelerated to an estimated 10.9 per cent last year. Food price inflation is partly driven by the dirham’s link to the weakening dollar, which hit record lows against the euro, said ESCP’s executive manager Jamal Al Saeedi.
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