Ramadan 2012: The inspectors from the ministry have carried out exhaustive tours of markets to enforce Holy Month pricing rules.
Ministry of Economy's month-long campaign to ensure the price is right
ABU DHABI // Iftars in restaurants may be increasingly pricey, but residents may find comfort knowing they can organise their own at home with fruits and vegetables that cost half the usual price.
Every year, the Ministry of Economy begins its exhaustive tours of markets to enforce Holy Month pricing rules.
Officials from the ministry tour each of the emirates' fruit and vegetable markets to ensure sellers display half the usual price of their produce.
Last year, more than half the stalls at Sharjah's fruit and vegetable market had their trading licenses confiscated, mostly for failing to comply with Ramadan price controls.
This year, the ministry started touring the country's fruits and vegetables markets on the third day of Ramadan.
Abu Dhabi's fruit and vegetable was first on the list.
"We fined 27 stalls in Abu Dhabi for failing to display price tags on their fruits and vegetables," said Dr Hashim Al Nuaimi, the ministry's head of consumer protection. "It is better than last year but sellers need to be reminded that they must absolutely display their prices to consumers to avoid unfair fluctuations."
Next up was Dubai's Central Fruit and Vegetable Market in Al Awir. Although only two shopkeepers were fined for hiking their prices by almost double, most stands had abided by the ministry's Ramadan rule of keeping prices low.
"I am happy with what I saw at the Dubai market because all items were available and there was no major increase as a whole," said Dr Al Nuaimi.
Last week, some hypermarkets were caught out for raising food prices by up to 50 per cent immediately before Ramadan. Inspectors found increases of up to 8 per cent on frozen meat, 12 per cent on fish, 39 per cent on sugar and 50 per cent on fruits and vegetables. They were reported to the ministry.
"We have a list of items and their fixed price," said Yousuf Ali Hassan, the deputy manager at the ministry's Dubai office. "Retailers caught increasing prices will be fined between Dh5,000 and Dh100,000."
Customers who feel they have been overcharged should call the ministry's consumer protection hotline on 600 522225 or the Department of Economic Development on 800 8811 between 9am and 3pm during Ramadan.