KUWAIT CITY, Oct 16: The prices of commodities and goods continue to increase in the local market and burn the pockets of consumers due to the greed of traders, especially during special occasions and national festivals such as the Ashoura and Islamic New Year. Kuwaiti and expatriate participants of an opinion poll conducted by Al-Seyassah daily complained about the inflation of various food items, which is taking a toll on their salaries.
They urged the government to monitor the market and confront the excessive greed of traders, affirming that the prices of food items in Kuwait are the highest not only in the GCC region but also in entire Middle East.
However, several officials in the markets and consumer cooperative societies cited many reasons to justify the inflation. Notable among the justifications is that traders are inconsiderate in trying to maximize profits.
One of the respondents Adel Al-Hassawi said the recent price hike has nothing to do with the Ashoura festival, because it is illogical for a kilogram of tomato to cost KD 1. He insisted that this scenario depicts the rate at which the concerned officials at Ministry of Commerce and Industry neglect their duty of monitoring the market, which is exploited by greedy traders as an opportunity to increase the prices beyond the ceiling.
Meanwhile, Umm Muhannad lamented that the prices of commodities have increased beyond anybody’s imagination, affirming that the purchasing power of Kuwaiti dinar is dwindling while salaries are stagnant. She urged the legislative authority to enact a law that will criminalize any manipulation of prices, indicating that she has noticed the traders’ exploitation of every opportunity, including Islamic festivities like Ashoura, to increase the prices of commodities.
However, an official from a foodstuff import and trading company Ahmad Mohammad explained that the increase in customs duty and higher cost of transportation have affected the prices of foodstuff, vegetables and fruits, reasoning that Kuwait is battling with the consequences of the fall in international crude oil prices.
He agreed that some traders exaggerate the increase, while some markets quickly increase the prices of commodities as soon as they realize that such items have become more expensive in cooperative societies. In addition, the marketing manager of a consumer cooperative society Mousa Hussam disclosed that the cooperative societies are not doing well these days, which is why they regularly organize exhibitions to reduce the prices of vegetables and fruits on certain days of the week. He stressed that the cooperative societies are under pressure to increase the prices of some commodities to ensure high profit, because it amounts to failure of the board if the annual turnout is low.
By Najeh Bilal Al-Seyassah Staff