(KHAMIES AL HEFAITY)
The UAE is considering a plan to offer its citizens discounts on 14 food items, gasoline and cooking fuel to help offset inflation, the head of a consumer protection body said on Tuesday.
The plan would benefit only UAE nationals, who comprise about a fifth of the 4.5 million people living in the country.
The Cabinet is studying the plan, which will allow citizens to buy rice, bread, tea, sugar, milk, butter and other basic food items at discount rates, said Jamal Al Saeedi, executive manager of the Emirates Society for Consumer Protection.
“There is too much inflation and it is hitting households,” Al Saeedi said. “People cannot live without these items so we are looking for a way to reduce the costs.”
Inflation in the second-largest Arab economy hit a 19-year peak of 9.3 per cent in 2006 and probably accelerated to 10.9 per cent last year, the National Bank of Abu Dhabi said last month. The UAE’s economy grew 7.6 per cent last year.
Food prices in the UAE will probably jump 40 per cent this year after surging 30 per cent in 2007, Al Saeedi said last week.
Under the proposal, the Ministry of Social Affairs will provide nationals with cards they can use at 16 co-operative supermarkets to be eligible for the discounts, Al Saeedi said.
For the 14 food items, the supermarkets would not be allowed to take profits on sales to cardholders.
The proposal, drafted by the consumer protection body and Ministry of Economy, also calls for a discount on petrol and cylinders of domestic cooking fuel for the UAE nationals, according to Al Saeedi. (Reuters)
GCC states are trying to offset inflation by introducing price controls on rents, subsidising food and raising wages.
Earlier this week, the UAE’s Economy Ministry set a ceiling on the maximum price retailers are allowed to charge for some basic food items to help stabilise prices, as previously reported in Emirates Business.
Businesses in the UAE have been complaining about rising costs.
Subsidies likely on 14 items for Emiratis