By Faten Omar
KUWAIT: After receiving several complaints about cooperative societies banning expatriates from entering to shop and buy products during the holy month of Ramadan, Kuwait Times found expats are allowed to enter co-ops in many areas, but several Police Co-operative Societies are denying people entry unless they are Kuwaitis or working for the interior ministry.
Security guards are stationed at all entrances of Police Co-ops to check people’s civil IDs. Kuwait Times tried to speak with the co-op’s administration, but they refused to talk. One of the employees, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Kuwait Times the rule has been implemented since the beginning of Ramadan. Head of the Consumer Protection Association Meshaal Al-Mane told Kuwait Times this is an illegal decision, even if it is only applied at the interior ministry’s cooperative societies, affirming that banning expatriates from entering and limiting products to citizens only is against the law.
Mane explained cooperative societies are businesses with a commercial license from the commerce ministry, and they are also subject to the same market laws as other businesses. “The law must be implemented. As a representative of consumers in Kuwait, whether expats or citizens, we are obligated to protect their rights to enter any facility in the country and have the privilege to buy and shop,” he said. “Let us assume the opposite had happened, and a Kuwaiti was denied from entering a supermarket abroad. Is not that considered against the law?” Mane pointed out.
“This decision is against the laws of consumer protection and the ministry of commerce and industry and human rights. Let’s assume that their claims that the co-ops are crowded is true. This is an administrative matter and must be organized administratively and not by random decisions, especially by preventing a consumer from buying their needs in the month of Ramadan,” he said. Mane revealed he has informed the undersecretary of the ministry of commerce about the incidents faced by expats and informed him about Consumer Protection Association’s objection to such behavior.
Citizen Ali Wahabi expressed his anger at the decision that prevents expatriates from entering cooperative societies, pointing out it violates the constitution and is discriminatory. “Kuwait is a humanitarian country. It has sufficient stocks, so there is no reason to prevent expatriates from entering. This decision must be canceled immediately, because it has negative repercussions at the local and global levels,” he said. Nada Maged, an expat who used to buy from the Police Co-Op in Zahra, said: “This started three days before Ramadan, when the Police Co-op denied entry to expats. They checked the IDs and prevented anyone from entering except Kuwaitis and interior ministry personnel.”