Life is expensive!

Muna Al Fuzai

A recent local report said that there is a possibility of a hike in product prices in supermarkets during Ramadan. According to this report, the increase will range between 20 to 35 percent according to the type of commodity. This significant increase in prices during Ramadan will affect everyone. This is an issue that must be considered seriously.

There are no increases in salaries, rents are high, school fees and other fees such as residency are high and transportation costs are high too, so reports of price increases is a major cause for concern for people, because no one knows why prices are increasing and how to stop it!

Many studies tried to examine and analyze the real reasons behind the rise in prices in Kuwait, and one study in 2015 said Kuwait tops the Gulf in price increases compared to other GCC countries despite their economies, customs and traditions being similar. This indicates that there is an imbalance in the pricing of goods in the Kuwaiti market.

A GCC food industry report also predicted that Kuwait will record the fastest annual growth in food consumption in the Gulf between 2016 and 2021, with a compound annual growth rate of 5.5 percent. Food consumption in Kuwait is expected to reach 4.7 million metric tons in 2021.

With the holy month of Ramadan round the corner, it is natural to witness a race by people to buy various products for many reasons, including the connection of this month with many traditions that Muslims are accustomed to in terms of preparing for iftar and suhoor.

Although this blessed month is for worship and not food, Muslim societies have characterized this month with the invitation of friends and relatives to their Ramadan tables on a daily basis. Unfortunately, we see that there are people, especially merchants, who are waiting impatiently for Ramadan, not as a religious occasion, but as an opportunity to make more money and exploit the high purchasing power in this holy month to make big profits, which puts more burdens on many Muslims.

Some people have even complained that as the month of Ramadan approaches, the cost of hiring domestic helpers has increased to about KD 1,500! There are many poor families that we must pay attention to during Ramadan, and we need to ensure that they receive their basic Ramadan needs free of charge or at nominal prices. Charitable societies should consider these people inside the county rather than focusing on people abroad.

Do we know why prices rise in Ramadan? I think the consumers are the reason. They act as if all goods will disappear and they will suffer from hunger and a lack of food. This I guess is a phenomenon fueled by rumors in the absence of correct information. Another reason is excessive and wrong eating habits during Ramadan and other consumer trends that are associated with the holy month.

It is necessary for the ministry of social affairs to intervene in forcing cooperative societies not to raise prices, whether in Ramadan or otherwise, as well as increase control and supervision to ensure that stores adhere to normal prices. They must also encourage competition between traders, so all goods will be available at reasonable prices. We need more media campaigns to spread awareness among consumers to avoid extravagance, in addition to not purchasing larger quantities and learning to compare prices before buying.

Demand for foodstuff increases in this month, which continues until mid-Ramadan, followed by a rise in demand for other items such as clothing and sweets that families are keen to buy for Eid Al-Fitr.

We need price controls – Ramadan is not an opportunity to make more money.

By Muna Al-Fuzai
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