No sale offers without permit, licence

MUSCAT, August 26 – Any promotional or sales activity without obtaining prior permission from the authorities is prohibited and punishable in the Sultanate.
Eid festivals are seasons that witness the so-called sales activities galore in every part of the
Sultanate.
Article 31 of Consumer Protection Law states that businesses and service providers are prohibited from carrying out any promotional offers or reduction on prices of commodities or services without obtaining licences and permits from the competent bodies.
“Any person or business house found violating this regulation will be punishable with a fine not less than RO 100 and not exceeding RO 5,000,” states the law.
There are a number of specific requirements for business houses or persons when they conduct promotional and sales activities.
According to an official in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, businesses should mention the percentage of discount in Arabic and English apart from colour-coded tags on products that are on offer.
Red tags should be put on discounted products, while yellow and green tags should be placed on discounted products with defects and products that are not on discount, respectively.
“A decision by the ministry also restricts advertisements with regard to the sales and promotions prior to getting permission from the authorities,” said the official.
While advertising, the period of promotional activities including the starting and ending date should be clearly mentioned, he added.
Applications for a discount sale or promotion should be made to ministry at least 15 days before the beginning of the sale period.
“A list of products on sale and promotion, prices before and after reduction, and the percentage of reduction should accompany the application,” said the official.
According to Decision 129/2015, the discount on any product should not be less than 20 per cent of its original price.
However, vehicles, foodstuff, gold, jewellery and precious stones are excluded from this limit.
“It is important to be aware that licence renewal is not automatic and therefore, the licensee must apply to the ministry for each renewal,” he warned.
When pointed out that some shops have sales promotion banners displayed throughout the year, the official said, “It is unlawful and action will be taken against violators of the law.”
Where a promotion takes the form of a raffle or a draw which produces a prize winner, the organiser needs to notify the ministry of the names and addresses of the winners.
It is mandatory that the names of the winners are published in two daily newspapers, one of which is in Arabic.
A period of three months shall be given to the winners to claim their prizes starting from the date of announcement of winners in the newspapers.
If a winner does not claim the prize during that period, the winner would no longer be entitled to it and the unclaimed prize should be given to the civil societies.
According to 19 of the regulations, the ministry has the right to prohibit violators from conducting promotional offers for a year from the date the violation is proved to have occurred.

SAMUEL KUTTY