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Importers prosecuted for meat price-fixing

Khaled Al-Roudhan

KUWAIT: Minister of Commerce and Industry Khaled Al-Roudhan yesterday referred several livestock importers to the public prosecutor upon directives from HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah for colluding to suspend live sheep imports for a certain period to boost prices in the local market.

Investigations by the Competition Protection Authority (CPA) concluded that the agreement among the livestock importers promoted through social media was against the law, Roudhan, who is also acting state minister for youth affairs, said in a statement issued by the minister of commerce and industry. The CPA board also agreed that the authority’s chairman will take legal action against the importers in line with item 23 of law 10/2007 on protecting competition, the minister said.

The authority’s executive director has also been assigned with following up the customs data related to the importing companies and compare them with the documents they have submitted. The board will issue regular reports. The CPA summoned the colluding parties, who admitted it was true, and offered pledges that they would not repeat it in the future, as it contradicts the competition protection law, Roudhan said. The minister stressed the importance of enforcing precautionary arrangements by the CPA to uphold market mechanisms and guarantee free competition by providing various types of meat of better quality in line with sound and just rules and mechanisms provided by law.

Last month, the ministry of commerce and industry warned it will enforce stiff penalties against traders who hike or manipulate commodity prices after a meeting was held by relevant authorities to investigate monopolization in the local livestock market and ensure its stability as well as the stability of prices.

Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs and Minister of State for Municipal Affairs Mohammad Al-Jabri had also condemned the livestock importing companies that announced plans to increase prices of meat before the advent of Ramadan. The companies reportedly signed an agreement with each other calling for a collective increase in prices, something that the minister described as ‘tampering with food security’ in Kuwait. “Manipulating food security is a crime that will not go unaccounted for,” he had warned. – Agencies

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