Ahead of Eid Al Adha, prices of essential commodities are under close scrutiny, and anyone found overcharging the consumers will be dealt with accordingly, the Public Authority for Consumer Protection (PACP), Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has warned.
“We have taken all steps to ensure there is no undue price hike. Our inspectors are strictly monitoring the market for any illegal practices,” said Omar bin Faisal al Jahdhami, Vice-Chairman, Consumer Services and Market Control, PACP.
“Any commercial establishment found violating the law will be fined RO 800 on the first day and it will multiply every additional day.”
He said a “stable price” cannot be guaranteed on some items as they are imported. “In cases where the foodstuff is imported from regional as well as other countries, we cannot control the prices,” he said.
Al Jahdhami also asked people to buy from authorised shops and not from the street vendors who, more often than not, collect fruits and vegetables from abandoned yards and sell them at a cheap rate. He said most of the leading supermarkets and retailers have agreed to maintain status quo unless they have a major reason to justify a price hike. “Prices of fruits and vegetables depend on the demand and supply factors as they are sourced from outside besides being produced locally.”
“Also, prices of essential commodities from Asian countries hit by rains and some nations affected by hurricane are not in our control as their logistics are affected. Hence prices will be high,” said Al Jahdhami.
Prices of onions and tomatoes went up by nearly 100 per cent. A bag of 10 kg of Indian onion is being sold for RO 2.200 as against RO 1 before rains played spoilsport.
There were complaints that the only lab for checking the presence of fertilisers in fruits and vegetables was overloaded, causing a delay in the delivery of consignments to shops. The ministry, however, has taken appropriate measures to resolve the issue.
Meanwhile, the Muscat Municipality is keeping tabs on the manufacturing and expiry dates of foodstuff. “We are making calls to all the retail outlets to check products’ quality and hygiene. Strict action is taken against erring retailers,” said a municipality spokesperson.