Consumer rights activists see ‘unjustifiable’ hikes in prices of basic commodities

(Photo: Envato Elements)
AMMAN — The National Society for Consumer Protection (NSCP) has described hikes in the prices of commodities as “unjustified”, rejecting the claim that they are a natural result of the Russia-Ukraine war. اضافة اعلان

The society’s statement was issued after an increase in the prices of essential commodities, was noted.

Consumer rights advocates contend that the two countries in conflict, huge suppliers of grain and other food products, are not Jordan’s main sources of imports of these commodities; Jordan’s imports from the two do not exceeding 10 percent of the total imports.

Moreover, the Kingdom’s strategic reserves of essential commodities are sufficient to meet the needs of the country for an entire year, they say.

NSCP President Mohammad Obeidat said that the chaos in the markets these days “causes us to worry, due to the repeated and programmed rises in the prices of some commodities under flimsy pretexts from some traders”.

For example, he said, “the price of cooking oil, especially the kinds used by average restaurants, has gone up from 9 to 15 percent, which will lead to losses that restaurant owners may not be able to bear, consequently prompting them to raise the prices of their popular dishes that most middle- and working-class families depend on, which, in turn, will negatively affect these families’ purchasing power”.

Obeidat charged that the package sizes of some commodities have been tampered with, and their prices were increased, or that the prices of some goods stayed the same even though their sizes grew smaller.

He urged the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Supply to deal with the “chaotic situation” in the markets by setting limits on the prices of goods that have became unjustifiably high.

“Leaving the situation as is without holding violators to account would encourage other vendors to increase the prices of commodities under the same pretexts and justifications,” he said.

There have been recent hikes in the prices of some types of feed, such as corn and soy, which are essential to livestock farming, at rates ranging between 10 and 20 percent “despite a drop in their prices globally by 4 per cent”.

“This will lead to an increase in the cost of milk production, which will, in turn, lead to hikes in the prices of all dairy products and cheese” for end users, he said.

Some traders “take advantage of any situation or development, whether local or global, to serve their own interests, either by raising the prices of goods under unsubstantiated pretexts, such as the high prices of these goods in the global market or the high costs of transportation, shipping and storage, despite the fact that the strategic stock of these goods is often sufficient for local consumption for more than six months, especially the essential commodities that the citizen needs on a daily basis”, Obeidat stressed.

“There is no doubt,” he added “that the weak purchasing power of citizens has contributed greatly to the stagnation in the markets, but this stagnation always affects the retailer and wholesaler and not the primary importer.”

Obeidat said the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Supply “should conduct a market study to identify the actual prices of the commodities whose prices were hiked on the global market and the cost of bringing them to the end users, including the profit margins of importers and vendors, and act accordingly to address a situation like the current one”.  

He also advises consumers to search for alternatives to certain goods and ration their consumption if possible, and, most importantly, boycott those goods until their prices are brought to the previous levels.

Salah Al-Roudhan, a Jordanian citizen, said: “I used to buy basic commodities per month at a value of JD200, and two months ago I noticed that the allocated amount was not enough to purchase all basic needs, but I needed to add JD30, bringing the total amount to JD230.”

Livestock breeder Zaid Al-Daboubi said that he noticed an increase in feed prices since mid-December, when the price of a sack of feed was JD8.25. It has risen to JD12.50.

Lack of competition makes the situation more difficult, Daboubi said, stressing the need to find feed-exporting countries with reasonable prices, such as India, Azerbaijan, and Turkey.

He said that the government policy “seems to be against sheep breeders”, at a time when the percentage of families that make a living from this is on the rise, and “in the event of the extinction of this sector, these families will not find anything to eat”.

Jordan News tried to contact the president of the Amman Chamber of Commerce, Khalil Al-Hajj Tawfiq, but he did not return the call.

Read more Business