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Soaring prices particularly hit citizens with ‘limited income’ Some blame greedy merchants for price hike

KUWAIT CITY, Jan 7, (KUNA): Citizens, particularly those of limited income, have been particularly feeling the heat of soaring prices of necessities and commodities, some vary from day to day. Some analysts believe that commodities’ prices have dramatically increased on the local market due to their record hike on the international markets, noting that Kuwait imports most of the basic products. However, others opine that the prices have jumped due to greed of some merchants, seeking additional but unjustified profits. Meanwhile, relevant authorities assert keenness on protecting the consumer and enforcing measures to keep prices of the basic goods at reasonable levels, in addition to the State special food subsidy cards, offered to the citizens.

Public cooperative stores have repeatedly affirmed keenness on offering reasonable prices, simultaneously with measures by the Ministry of Commerce to check commercial fraud and baseless prices’ hike. Salwa Al-Gattan, a 50- year-old retiree, said in an interview with KUNA that her spending has generally increased, but indicated that she, along with many other consumers, can be to a certain extent rational by specifying a sum to be spent per month on basic items. Ahmad Shaker Al-Rifai, a civil servant and family supporter, said setting the commodities’ prices is a socioeconomic issue that must be taken into consideration by the concerned officials, also noting necessity of cooperation on part of the merchants to set the prices.

Social segment that includes retirees, students and expatriates is the largest part of the society, however they are with the lowest purchase power, he said, noting the growing responsibilities on parents’ shoulders recently. Sara Al-Zaid, an academic student, said she counts on the university monthly allowance. “However, spending rates differ from one month to another and from one season to another, and this all depends on management of the spending, for a large portion of the society namely the girls spend a lot just for sake of staying abreast of fashion.” Furthermore, some families spend higher than their financial capacities, particularly on non-necessities, and that is partly due to the thriving sector of credit cards and loans as well as installments’ trades.

Al-Zaid said the Ministry of Commerce must tighten measures for consumer protection against unreasonable hikes of basic food and items. Rashed Al-Hajeri, in charge of the ministry’s commercial anti-fraud department, affirmed that the department dispatches inspectors to shopping malls and coop stores to search for any commercial irregularities or unjustified hike of prices. The ministry is responsible for tightening the supervision and the consumers should be aware of prices’ manipulations, he said.

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