KUWAIT CITY, April 11: Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) has expressed objection and displeasure to the decision of Minister of Commerce and Industry Dr Yousef Al-Ali to freeze the prices of consumer goods. During a meeting between the Acting Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid and a KCCI delegation led by the Chairman Ali Thunyan Al-Ghanim on Monday, one of the members of the delegation indicated that such a decision could put the minister in an embarrassing position.
KCCI’s stance seems to be putting more pressure on the minister especially since he is expected to tender his resignation to avoid an interpellation scheduled for Wednesday, which may lead to vote of no-confidence. The delegation, in a press statement, said they regard the decision as “an unprecedented frivolity”, declaring that KCCI is against any action that is capable of distorting the market strength. They insisted that the decision to freeze prices in a country, which imports almost all its needs and is one of the most exposed countries trade-wise, amounts to frivolity.
The delegation said experiences worldwide reveal that fixing prices during an unusual situation is a failed practice and detrimental to the interests of consumers. They stressed that the action is another quick way of opening doors for corruption and black market, affirming that the initiative to freeze prices contradicts and destroys efforts of both authorities towards improving the economic and investment environment in the country.
The delegation insisted that the decision is against the law and a clear indication of the lack of political seriousness, affirming that the meeting with Acting Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid on Monday is a start to increasing awareness about the harmful economic implications in this regard. In the same context, a number of members of KCCI board including Fahad Al-Jawaan, Tareq Al-Mutawa, Abdullah Al-Mullah, Emran Hayat and Osama Al-Nesf agreed that the decision was taken quickly and was not based on any reasonable studies.
They explained that the law necessitates punishing those who manipulate with the prices. However, it is also not allowed to punish traders and freeze prices. Such a decision is “communistic”, despite the fact that KCCI has been cooperating with the government for the latter to carry out its plan aimed at finding alternative sources of state income.
The KCCI board members said they hope the decision will be restudied and its repercussions will be reevaluated before it is too late, as Kuwait has a free economy that is influenced by changes and fluctuations in economic positions. Meanwhile, one of the members, who requested anonymity, revealed that the minister had to consult experts before issuing such a decision. He indicated that the minister triggered the new chaos which will negatively impact his position and performance, adding, “Wrong decisions mark the beginning of collapse”.
By Bilal Bader, Rabab Al-Jouhari and Ayed Al-Arfaj Al-Seyassah Staff