The UAE’s food ministry stated that it has contracted a deal with shops and stores across the UAE to offer reductions going up to 70% during the blessed month of Ramadan on around 4,700 food items that are on the list of the most essential.
The Ministry of Economy stated that it has set prices of around 3,500 important food items in preparation for the month of Ramadan, which is expected to commence on June 18 of this year.
All food-selling retailers and channels are obligated to show the lists of all 3,500 products and specify their address by the order of the ministry. Officials, however, did not stipulate whether or not the prices will continue to remain fixed until the end of 2015.
According to the ministry, the cost of such an initiative is expected to be around AED 200 million.
Officers and ministry officials have also suggested that retailers put up the number of imports during Ramadan in order to avoid increasing costs of food.
The manager of UAE’s Consumer Protection Department, Mr. Hashim Al Nuaimi, said that the ministry asked suppliers to increase the number of imports by 30%, particularly on vegetables and fruits.
He brought up how the daily imports of fruits and vegetables just within the Dubai market during Ramadan is expected to extend to a whopping 16,000 tons, while in Abu Dhabi, traders will be importing another 3,500 tons.
The Ministry of Economy is expected to conduct regular evaluations in order to properly monitor the prices throughout departmental stores and supermarkets in the UAE. Al Najmi mentioned that around 350 inspections will be done during the month of Ramadan alone, and this is being compared to the 280 that were done last Ramadan.
He failed to indicate the penalty if food prices are increased unduly. From previous records, it is known that the ministry fined anywhere from AED 5,000- AED 100,000 if such offenses were done. Legal action against them or potential closures of shops are also possible penalties that shop owners may face if they do not comply.
This year, the inflation rate in the UAE has risen by around 4.3% year to year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. This has been the highest rate recorded since the February of 2009. Soft drink and food prices, which add up to approximately 14% of the bag, went up 1.1% year to year in March.