Ministry of Commerce and Industry started on Wednesday working on the initiative of the list of discounted consumer goods for the holy month of Ramadan for this year, in coordination with major consumer complexes, the list includes more than 800 commodities.
The initiative comes within the framework of the ministry's keenness to provide the needs of citizens and residents of consumer goods at discounted prices during the holy month, as spending increases on the purchase of food commodities.
The list of discounted consumer goods includes all the basic commodities that the consumer needs during the holy month, such as flour, sugar, rice, pasta, chicken, oil, milk and other food commodities, in addition to non-food commodities such as tissue paper, aluminum foil, and all kinds of detergents, washing powders and other commodities of relative importance to the consumer and which are frequently consumed during the blessed month.
Ramadan will come this year in the midst of global turmoil, especially with regard to the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which in turn has strongly affected global supply chains, especially in some major commodities, in the forefront of which is wheat of all kinds, grains, rice, gas and petroleum. This opened the door to many questions about the availability of major commodities, price moderation, price control, performance expectations, and other questions not only in Qatar, but in various parts of the world, especially Islamic ones that receive the holy month in a few days.
So what are Qatar's preparations to receive the month of Ramadan and to secure the needs of the market and people of the main consumer goods and the most consumed during the holy month of Ramadan.
In this regard, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry affirmed the need to adhere to the prices specified in the list of discounted goods until the end of the holy month of Ramadan, noting that it will intensify its inspection campaigns to apprehend violators, and refer them to the competent authorities to take appropriate measures, in order to protect the rights of consumers. It also urged consumers to participate in the community in reporting any cases of price violations through the ministry's communication channels.
HE Assistant Undersecretary for Consumer Affairs at Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI), Sheikh Jassim bin Jabor Al-Thani affirms that the Country is keen to provide goods at acceptable prices and reducing the effects of global conditions by measures imposed by the Country or with the support of traders, so that the goods reach the consumer at reasonable prices, adding that the Country seeks to provide products, goods and services at reasonable prices, and works to ensure a balance between the existence of goods and services and their provision at reasonable prices. He pointed out that the State of Qatar operates within a complete global system, affected by the circumstances that may arise from time to time and lead to the rise or fall of commodities.
On the extent to which the supply chains are affected by the Russian military escalation currently taking place in Ukraine, His Excellency affirmed, in statements, that the world has been affected by the current war in Ukraine, especially if we take into account the importance of these countries, which are the main source of wheat, grains and minerals. Hence, the current geopolitical situation has affected the prices of commodities exported by these countries, pointing out that the supply and supply chains of shipping, transport and warehousing were affected in turn, which is reflected in the commodity prices at the end.
On the reasons for the different prices of commodities in the outlets, HE Sheikh Jassim bin Jabor Al-Thani explained that the costs of the commodity and the costs of importing it differ from one supplier to another. The logistical capacity also varies from one supplier to another, and the extent of its ability to reduce the price of the commodity to attract consumers. The multiple outlets of a particular brand and its ability to import goods from certain sources and make bids also affects the final selling price.
His Excellency also pointed out that when the price of the commodity is the same in all outlets, there is a suspicion of monopoly, as there may be a horizontal agreement between traders for price stability on a high price, considering that the price difference between one outlet and another is a normal thing.
HE Assistant Undersecretary for Consumer Affairs indicated that among the reasons that lead to an increase or decrease in prices are economic growth and supply and demand. The more there is economic growth and prosperity, and the higher the income of the people, the more spending and the higher the consumption. Consequently, demand exceeds supply, and there is an imbalance in the base of supply and demand, which in turn causes prices to rise, and vice versa.
HE Sheikh Jassim bin Jabor Al-Thani revealed the method of pricing commodities, noting that only basic and consumer goods are the ones that the Country interferes with in their pricing. He pointed out that there is a general list of free prices whose determination is subject to supply, demand and the market, but the prices in which the Country intervenes are represented in some basic and consumer goods, and the price is determined by specialized committees, and the Country intervenes in pricing because these commodities are of relative importance to the consumer in his daily life.
Most of the commercial complexes in the country have completed their preparations for the holy month of Ramadan, as they have secured large quantities of various commodities to meet the needs of the local market, especially the items on high demand during the holy month.
The commercial sector preparations for the holy month of Ramadan are divided into two parts: the first is for food commodities with long-term expiry date, such as rice, sugar, grains, and other food items, which traders can meet the local market needs and store quantities exceeding the market needs, while the second part includes fresh food commodities with short- term expiry date such as fresh meat, poultry, dairy products, and others, which is mostly produced by local factories, in addition to imports from friendly countries, which arrive during the holy month of Ramadan.
In this regard, a number of traders unanimously agreed, in statements to Qatar News Agency (QNA), that local markets hadn't been affected, so far by external events, in reference to the Russian military escalation in Ukraine, attributing this to several reasons, foremost among them the keenness of the Ministry of Commerce & Industry to raise the strategic stock in the local market, which has made the volume of strategic stock of basic food items and consumer goods distinguished as a result of continued communication between the public and private sectors to increase the stock, in addition to the tireless work to maintain the continued flow of food and consumer goods to the local markets.
traders, in their statements to (QNA), said that the market was witnessing a great diversity in goods and commodities, which gave the consumer many options when buying, stressing that the prices of commodities and food items would witness tangible stability during the holy month, especially with the intensive oversight carried out by various state agencies, especially Department of Consumer's Protection.
They also unanimously agreed that preparing for the holy month wasn't only by commercial complexes, but also by merchants and suppliers who conclude contracts to secure the local market need for goods and products, pointing out that everyone was keen to secure their needs from the local market to benefit from the season and increase sales.
Traders confirmed that there was a clear diversity of goods and products in the local market, which allows the consumer to choose based on prices and quality, pointing out that there was an obvious competition among commercial complexes to attract the largest possible number of consumers.
Traders expected the continued high rates of demand for food items during the first days of the holy month as a result of the promotions offered by the complexes and the intense competition in the local market, which prompts consumers to buy more and store goods, stressing that the demand for these foodstuffs gradually decreases after the passing of the first week of the holy month and the rush for buying diminish to be normal.
Sheikh Jassim bin Thamer Al-Thani, a businessman, confirmed that Ramadan preparations for this year were different from previous years, as on one hand, a larger number of subsidized goods joined the list of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. He explained that the number of goods for this year exceeded 800 items, compared to about 650 items in the previous year, considering that this demonstrated the interest of the state and merchants alike in providing a greater amount of subsidized commodities to the consumer, based on awareness of the importance of maintaining market balance and making all commodities available, even if there were external factors that might affect supply chains.
In his statement to QNA, Sheikh Jassim bin Thamer explained that raising the prices of the commodity was subject to a special mechanism by the concerned authorities, and it wasn't an easy matter for a trader, importer, or even a local factory to raise the price of a commodity without referring to the competent authorities, as these agencies shall study the request to raise the commodity in question, and decide whether or not it needs to be raised, according to special criteria taking into consideration first of all the consumer's interest.
He stressed that there was a tangible availability of goods and food items and consumer products in the local market, which are on high demand during the holy month, especially in the first week, as the commercial sector works every year to conclude many contracts with various suppliers from friendly countries to secure the need of the local market. In addition to communicating with local factories to increase the quantities of production coming to the market, indicating that the commercial sector dealt with the local market need early, as many contracts and deals were concluded to secure the local market need of goods and foodstuffs, and to ensure that no shortage of specific commodity during the holy month.
He also called on public not to rush to buy the requirements of the holy month and to be satisfied with the needs of the family without accumulating those goods and products since all goods and commodities are available, noting that the rush to buy and accumulate food items confused the commercial sector and malls, as well as making the consumer incur losses since food items could easily go off.
Sheikh Jassim bin Thamer explained that the private sector was able during the last period to secure the local market need for goods and services through supply contracts months before the holy month, noting that food consumption increased during the blessed month of Ramadan, as consumption doubles at least twice.
Regarding the list announced by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday, the businessman Ali Hassan Al Khalaf stated, in a statement to Qatar News Agency (QNA), that the list of goods whose price is determined by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry puts commercial complexes under legal accountability if they increase or manipulate the prices of such goods, indicating that cooperation between major commercial centers is in the interest of the consumer and increases the stability of the domestic market.
Al Khalaf added that the concept of price manipulation and the disparity in prices must be defined, bearing in mind that price differences here are within a very limited range, so that we do not see a large variation in prices from one outlet to another.
As for the domestic market being affected by the turmoil currently taking place in Ukraine, Al-Khalaf considered that the effect has not yet appeared in the domestic market, stressing that Qatar has the ability to control any external disturbances that would affect the movement of goods inside, the state's ability to contain previous crises, especially during the year 2017 is a proof, where the state completely controlled the market, and the consumer did not feel at all a shortage of a commodity, or an increase in the prices, which is due to the great harmony between the various state agencies and the merchants.
He pointed out that prices are stable and there is competition between malls, which is reflected in the final price of the product, noting that the diversity of commodities in the market adds a new taste to the local market.
Al Khalaf also indicated that all commodities are available in the domestic market and there is no fear of a shortage of any of them during the holy month, as there is a large surplus of products that cover the market's need even after Ramadan.
Domestic market are witnessing an active commercial movement with the advent of the holy month of Ramadan, and the demand has begun to gradually increase for basic food commodities and the requirements of the holy month.
In this context, businessman Abdul Hadi Al Shahwani expected that the purchase movement would increase during the holy month from 30 to 40 percent, which is a seasonal increase in the sales movement, pointing out that prices remain, however, fixed during that period and are not affected by the intensity of purchases..
There is an abundance of Ramadan goods in the domestic market that suffices the needs of consumers as a result of the contracts of traders and importers on large quantities to meet the needs of the market, he added.
According to the data of the consumer price index issued by the Statistics and Planning Authority, the index recorded a monthly decline in February, compared to January, due to the decline in the prices of three groups, represented in the entertainment and culture group by 3.37 percent, and the transportation group by 0.98 percent and the food and beverage group by 0.34 percent.
Al Shahwani stressed that there is continuous communication between the malls and the Ministry of Commerce to ensure the availability of goods and products in the local market during the holy month, pointing to the contribution of major commercial malls that sell foodstuffs and commercial offers, to a large extent, to the stability of local prices, and to the stability of the market as a whole.
Major commercial malls are currently offering promotional offers for goods, food and non-food items before Ramadan. The promotional offers that will extend during Ramadan include the basic goods and products that the family needs at encouraging prices amid a remarkable diversity of goods and countries of origin.
The concerned authorities are working to implement extensive inspection campaigns around the clock before, during and after Ramadan to cover all areas of the country and various sectors and commercial activities, in order to monitor the extent to which suppliers comply with their obligations stipulated in Law No. 8 of 2008 regarding consumer protection.
The inspection campaigns carried out by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry include ensuring the extent to which the malls are committed to selling goods on the list of discounted goods throughout the holy month of Ramadan, which was announced yesterday.