x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

FNC calls for more protection for UAE consumers

FNC members have called for greater oversight of goods sold in the country to protect consumers.

ABU DHABI // FNC members called for greater oversight of goods sold in the country to protect consumers.

In a four-hour debate with the Minister of Economy, Sultan Al Mansour, who is also director general of Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Meteorology, a majority of members asked questions about consumer rights.

In a report prepared by the council's finance committee, members found that the ministry needed to encourage competitiveness and fight monopolies, work to maintain prices in accord with neighbouring countries, and fight commercial fraud - including forging production or expiry dates, weight of content and counterfeit products.

Marwan bin Ghalita (Dubai) said consumers should have the right to alternative products. He said while the ministry worked in Ramadan to help keep prices from surging, this was needed all year round.

The minister replied that during Ramadan prices would rise, more so than at other times of the year and for the past few years the Government had been able to control costs.

When asked about the entry of counterfeit products, or other goods harmful to residents' health or offensive to religion, the minister agreed greater supervision was needed, but not just from the Ministry of Economy.

He said consumers should call in to report such items.

Last year, the ministry confiscated more than 24,000 products and found 4,106 breaches.

Mr Al Mansour said inflation last year was less than 1 per cent, a much lower percentage when compared with neighbouring countries.

He said that previously many food items were imported from Arab Spring countries.

"What happened in the region has affected prices," he said.

When a number of members expressed concern about chemicals and ingredients used in children's sweets and other food, the minister said it was hard to test food.

He said the organisation's biggest challenge was the absence of a test laboratory in the country.

Although members said the ministry lacked certain laws to help govern economic activity, the minister said 11 laws were in the pipeline, four of which were under discussion.

The next session is scheduled for June 4.

osalem@thenational.ae