UAE supermarket chain commits to freeze prices

April 6th, 2008 - 9:47 pm ICT by admin  

Dubai, April 6 (IANS) The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) leading supermarket chain Lulu Hypermarket Group signed an agreement Sunday with the country’s ministry of economy to implement the first phase of a programme to maintain the 2007 prices of more than 32 basic food commodities throughout 2008. The agreement was signed by well-known Indian entrepreneur and chairman of the Lulu Hypermarket Group Yousuf Ali and Minister for Economy Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, according to the state-run WAM news agency.

“The initiative by Lulu Hypermarket to fix the prices of 32 food commodities emphasizes the vital role that the private sector can play in contributing to price stability, maintaining market equilibrium and contributing effectively to the development of society and the national economy,” Al Mansouri said.

The move comes in the wake of skyrocketing inflation across the Gulf nations given the fall in the values of the dollar-pegged five Gulf currencies and appreciation of the rupee.

The Lulu stores are especially popular with the 5.5 million Indian expatriates of the region.

The new agreement is aimed at stabilizing prices, alleviating inflation, maintaining market balance, and protecting consumers and completes a number of recent initiatives jointly conducted by the ministry in collaboration with cooperative societies in line with the government’s call to fix the prices of basic food products at cost prices.

According to the agreement, Lulu Hypermarket will fix the prices of 32 basic food commodities at 2007 prices, which will apply to various types of rice, sugar, oil, flour, tea, butter, salt, milk and its products, tomato paste, legumes, chicken, meat, cheese, egg, macaroni, water and bread.

Al Mansouri said his ministry would continue to work in collaboration with other bodies to control monopoly, exploitation, and other threats to market stability.

He also called for stronger cooperation between the public and private sectors in the country to address rising prices, particularly of basic commodities, which he noted is an international phenomenon not limited to the UAE.

Yousuf Ali, a recipient of the India’s Pravasi Bharatiya Samman award, said his group responded quickly to the ministry’s initiative based on its conviction about the importance of such programmes to eliminate any negative practices that threaten free competition in the UAE.

He further encouraged the private sector in the UAE not to focus solely on profits, pointing out the danger of inflation to both society and economy.

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