A UAE consumer protection body yesterday said it had urged the government to subsidise basic food items as part of measures to curb food price rises, which it expects to reach 40 per cent this year. The Emirates Society for Consumer Protection (ESCP) is asking the government to raise subsidies on rice, sugar, bread, milk and other basic foods, its executive manager Jamal al-Saeedi said.
Food prices in the UAE rose about 30 per cent last year, according to a survey conducted by the body, Saeedi added. “I expect they will go up another 40 per cent this year,” he said yesterday. “The government needs to intervene. We made proposals two weeks ago and we are still waiting for a response.”
A source at the consumer protection department at the UAE ministry of economy told 7DAYS that ministry policy is to wait for complaints about prices to reach a certain level before any action is taken. A research team would then be established to analyse increases in food prices and would pass its findings on to the Higher Committee for Consumer Protection.
But Al-Saeedi said his proposals, which also include a call for tighter controls on rent increases, had already been submitted to the Higher Committee, which he said would consider them at its next meeting. “The dirham has fallen against the dollar and 85 per cent of the food... is imported,” Al-Saeedi said, partly blaming the dirham’s peg to the dollar for rising inflation.
He added that growing costs for labour, rents and government fees have also forced retailers to pass price rises on to consumers.
DUBAI, March 5, 2008 (7 Days)