cfb321370aa49210VgnVCM100000e56411acRCRDapproved/thenational/Articles/Migration/2008-Q2More retailers to freeze pricesbfb321370aa49210VgnVCM100000e56411ac____More retailers to freeze pricesThe government hopes to have more retailers on board to freeze prices of staple food items to ease inflation.The government hopes to have more retailers on board to freeze prices of staple food items to ease inflation.<p>More retailers will soon sign agreements with the government to freeze prices of staple food items to ease the burden of inflation, a government officials said after Carrefour agreed to hold prices of 52 items at last year's levels.
Carrefour, a subsidiary of Majid al Futtain Hypermarkets, became the second major private retailer to freeze the price of 52 goods. Its ten outlets will sell those goods for the remainder of the year at the same prices it sold them at last year.
Last week, the Ministry of Economy signed a similar agreement with Emke Group, the owner of Lulu hypermarkets, as it has done with about half a dozen retail cooperatives in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
During a news conference in Dubai with Carrefour officials, Mohammed Ahmed bin Abdulaziz al Shihhi, under secretary to the Minister of Economy, said other companies would like enter into the government initiative to hold down prices. "We already have had requests," Mr al Shihhi said. "Eventually, people that do business understand that they can't do business if they raise their prices."
The agreement with Carrefour, Lulu and the cooperatives freezes prices on basic items such as eggs, milk, rice, chicken and cooking oils.
Last week, the Ministry of Economy announced that 15 items — including dry and condensed milk, frozen and canned vegetables, baby food, chicken, edible oil, rice, flour, fish, meat and tea — were to be placed on a free import list. The Government is also conducting a study on the benefits of stockpiling at least 15 essential food items.
The deals so far have covered the country's biggest retailers. Whether smaller, domestically-based supermarkets will follow their lead remains unclear.</p>
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