UAE shops to cut daily goods prices 20-40 pct for March
Measure to apply to nearly 250 items, valid for one month.
March 1, 2011 12:01 by Reuters
A range of retailers in the United Arab Emirates have agreed to cut their prices for many food and other essential commodity items by up to 40 percent for one month, a government official said on Tuesday.
Rising living costs in Arab countries are one of the driving forces behind the revolts that have toppled leaders in Egypt and Tunisia and are now challenging autocratic regimes in Libya as well as nearby Bahrain and Oman.
UAE, the world’s third-largest oil exporter, has escaped the unrest so far. Its relatively small local population has one of the highest economic outputs per capita globally at over $47,000.
“Major co-operatives, supermarkets and hypermarkets have agreed to give special offers as part of the national consumer protection day for the whole month,” Hashem al-Nuaimi, head of consumer protection at the UAE economy ministry, told reporters.
“It will apply to nearly 250 essential commodities for the month of March. The price decrease will be from 20 to 40 percent,” he said.
Kuwait said in January it would provide its native citizens with free coupons for food such as rice, eggs and milk for 14 months until March 2012 as part of a $4.9 billion package.
Bahrain’s king had promised to spend $117 million more on food subsidies over the next two years than previously planned as well as offering other handouts before anti-government protests broke out last month.
Food costs in OPEC member UAE climbed last year as global commodity prices rose, but the fell sharply early this year. They were still 3.9 percent higher in January than a year ago, data showed this week.
UAE inflation is seen accelerating to 2.8 percent this year as the second-largest Arab economy recovers from the impact of Dubai debt woes .Consumer price growth stood at a mere 0.9 percent in 2010, which was the lowest annual level since the Gulf war started in 1990.
(Writing by Stanley Carvalho and Martin Dokoupil)