The prices of more than 16 basic food items at co-operative stores have been frozen at 2007 levels for the rest of the year in a bid to combat surging inflation, a senior official has revealed.
An agreement between the Ministry of Economy and the Union Co-operative Society (UCS) pegs the cost of a range of goods, including oil, rice, flour, eggs, sugar, powdered milk, tea, meat, chicken, fish and bread. The deal also applies to the Abu Dhabi, Al Dhafra and Sharjah co-operative societies.
“The move was prompted by expectations that the prices of the basic items would rise by 25 to 30 per cent during 2008,” said UCS General Manager Khalid Humaid Al Falasi. “The society will bear the burden of these rises, which will not be less than Dh40 million.”
The Ministry of Economy hopes the move will reduce inflation, stabilise prices, sustain market balance and protect consumers.
The programme highlights the role the UCS plays in combating inflation.
“The initiative to fix the prices of more than 16 goods underscores the vital role that co-op societies can play in stabilising commodity prices and preserving market balance,” said Minister of Economy Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri.
He said the UCS played an important part in supporting the principle of co-operation and bridging the price gap in local markets through direct imports of various food commodities from their sources.
Al Mansouri said the agreement underscored the UAE Government’s continuous efforts to maximise the benefits of co-op societies such as promoting and participating in the socio-economic development of the country.
He said the ministry, in association with other bodies, will continue to work towards combating any type of monopoly or exploitation that may threaten market stability. “Consumer protection is not only the responsibility of the ministry. A joint effort by local and federal organisations is needed to prevent practices that affect consumers, society and the national economy.”
Union Co-operative Society Chairman Majed Hamad Al Shamsi said the price freeze was in line with the society’s commitment to serve the community and contribute to the development of vital sectors such as education, health, charitable work and partnerships between public and private organisations.
Al Falasi said the move was part of the society’s efforts to maintain price stability in the retail sector in Dubai in particular and the UAE in general – particularly in respect of basic foods that represented 30 to 40 per cent of consumer purchases.
“In 2007 the UCS contributed to reducing prices through cutting profits by Dh14.6m to address the rising cost of living.”
CONSUMER SOCIETY CHIEF DENIES REPORT ON SUBSIDIES
The executive manager of the Emirates Society for Consumer Protection yesterday issued a denial after media reports quoted him as saying government bodies intend to subsidise basic food products for Emiratis.
A report, issued by Reuters, quoted Dr Jamal Al Saeedi as saying the UAE was considering a plan to subsidise 14 items, such as gasoline and cooking fuel, to help offset inflation.
The Cabinet was studying the plan, the report said, which would have allowed nationals to buy rice, bread, tea, sugar, milk, butter, plus other basics at subsidised rates. However, yesterday night Al Saeedi said a decision to subsidise food for Emiratis was an area for government bodies, and the society had no such role since it was not a government or legislative organisation.
He said his society had presented several proposals to curb inflation, mainly the need for government subsidies on basic products. (Wam)
Prices of 16 basic food items stay at 2007 levels