At least 50 of Bahrain’s top supermarkets and food distributors have signed a pledge to keep prices down during Ramadan after the government vowed to control food prices and supplies during the Holy Month, it was reported.
Signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), they vowed not to raise prices and actually try to bring them down.
Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) executive board member told the Gulf Daily News “the first priority was Ramadan and the pricing of goods during Ramadan. Everybody signed an MoU agreeing that no one would raise any prices in Ramadan and do their best to lower prices.”
While Muslims fast during the daylight hours in Ramadan, nights are traditionally a time to feast, meaning a boon for food suppliers.
Al Amin said he expected market forces to drive up the price of some products, but hoped any increases would be minimal.
However, a spokesman for Minister of State for Information Affairs and government said the consumer protection directorate was assuming its role in monitoring prices.
Speaking in a press briefing following the weekly cabinet meeting, she urged media and citizens to report any irregularities to the directorate along with evidence corroborating the violations.
The move by Bahrain officials echoes a new initiative by Qatar's Ministry of Economy and Commerce to make around 400 commodities available at lower prices during Ramadan. Doha officials have ordered that lower prices are mandatory for all shops and shopping centres, including Al Meera Consumer Goods, Carrefour, LuLu Hypermarkets, Safeer Mall, Saudi Hypermarket, Mega Mart, Quality Hypermarket, Grand Hypermarket, Grand Mart and Spinneys until the end of the Holy Month.
“The Ministry has succeeded in adding more commodities to the list every year,” Qatar's Consumer Protection Department director Sheikh Jassim bin Jabor bin Hassan Al Thani was quoted as saying by the Gulf Times.
“When the initiative was launched five years ago, it included about 114 commodities, which later rose to 260 and this year reached 400.”
The Ministry of Economy and Commerce said it had allocated a QR12m ($3.29m) for meat and sheep subsidies, with Qatari nationals allowed to purchase two sheep a season using their ID card.