Prices of commodities raised unduly, preceding subsidy cuts – ‘Consumers always at the receiving end’

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 11: In a manner depicting jumping the gun prior to the probable removal of fuel and electricity subsidies, prices of some food items have reached a height such that several consumers have been denouncing the ugly situation and expressing concern over the rise in prices of commodities merely due to discussions about the subsidy removal, reports Al-Rai daily.

A Kuwaiti citizen Sa’ad Al-Fadhli stressed that the prices of commodities in cooperative societies and other shopping outlets have been raised unduly as a way of preempting the subsidy removal. He indicated that the country will witness sharp rise in prices of commodities when the subsidy removal becomes a reality, especially in cooperative societies where suppliers are paid months after importation, lamenting that the consumers always end up bearing the brunt. Another citizen Abdul Gafour Al- Awadi said the way prices of commodities are increased in Kuwait is purely arbitrary, revealing that a packet of tea, which used to cost KD 0.600 has now become very expensive due to lack of monitoring by Ministry of Commerce and Industry. He indicated that a citizen earning salary of KD 1,000 cannot meet the monthly demands and needs, because he has to pay house rent, installments, children’s school fees and other such commitments.

Al-Awadi affi rmed that only four or eight traders are playing with the prices of commodities because of the slackness of the ministry, revealing that many people post-liberation have been looking for ways to make more money without considering whether the sources are legitimate or not. According to Hussein Al-Jumah, the prices of some commodities dropped since the last quarter of 2015 but the prices of many other commodities have increased sharply after the issue of subsidy removal was brought up. He stressed that the slogan of traders has always been “We will exploit consumers before the government consume us”, indicating that people are used to the concept of hikes in commodity prices every time any decision is taken with attendant effect on custom duties or salary increment.

Al-Jumah said, “The rate of hike in prices of commodities will not be less than 25 percent when the fuel and electricity subsidy removal is eventually enforced. Payment for those services will refl ect on the prices of commodities. Low-income earners are bound to suffer more in this regard.” Corroborating other respondents, Mohammad Mohy revealed that the Kuwaiti markets are known for increasing the prices of commodities out of panic anytime there is a discussion about subsidy removal, tax or any other related issue. Declaring that consumers are always at the receiving end in such circumstances, he said, “It is unfortunate that many consumers have stopped shopping at cooperative societies and prefer other stores where promotion sales are frequently announced. They have also replaced garment shops with the Friday Market where they can get garment at cheap prices”.

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