The UAE Ministry of Economy (MoE) arranged a media briefing on consumer protection measures in the UAE, with a focus on arrangements and measures to welcome Ramadan 2019. The session, which also reviewed the decisions and recommendations of the Higher Committee for Consumer Protection, was chaired by H.E. Eng. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, UAE Minister of Economy.
Dr. Hashim Al Nuaimi, Director of the Competitiveness and Consumer Protection Department at the Ministry of Economy, reviewed the efforts and initiatives undertaken by the Ministry in collaboration with its partners from various federal and local governmental authorities and the private and cooperative sectors in all emirates of the UAE. These will empower sound business practices, protection of consumers, safeguard their rights and promote consumer awareness, thereby enhancing market stability.
Consumer protection initiatives in the Year of Tolerance
Dr. Al Nuaimi described that MoE has launched two initiatives during this Year of Tolerance to confirm the happiness and satisfaction of consumers.
Initiative to enable release of vehicles abandoned at maintenance workshops due to inability to pay fines and outstanding dues
The Ministry has contacted both the agencies and the owners of 580 vehicles that were abandoned at car dealerships’ workshops in various emirates for more than 6 months due to default payments. They were contacted to find solutions to the issues and to resolve them. The Ministry’s efforts resulted in the release of the vehicles from the workshops.
Free technical inspection at dealers’ workshops
Al Nuaimi explained that the Ministry, in cooperation with car dealerships and with the approval of the Car Committee, has launched an initiative that permits car owners to avail free technical inspections of their cars at the agencies’ workshops during this Year of Tolerance.
Intensive meetings with suppliers and outlets
Al Nuaimi said that MoE, represented by the Competition and Consumer Protection Department, has held around 50 meetings with suppliers of commodities to ensure the availability of stocks and stability of prices. He pointed out that suppliers and traders have confirmed their promise to addressing the needs of local markets in terms of goods and products in order to avoid any shortage of commodities throughout the year, especially during Ramadan season.
He further added that the daily import of vegetables and fruits to Dubai’s market during the holy month of Ramadan will be around 23,000-25,000 tons, while the imports by Abu Dhabi traders will exceed 4,500 tons daily. The current stock of vegetables and fruits has increased to around 130,000 tons this year, thanks to the recent advancements in storage refrigerators in both Al Mina Fruit and Vegetable Souk in Abu Dhabi and Dubai’s Al Aweer Central Fruit and Vegetable Market.
5,000 locked price items in 2019
Dr. Al Nuaimi said that the price freeze initiative endures this year for the seventh year in a row. This is set to improve consumer satisfaction by ensuring the availability of a specific set of commodities that are not subject to market variables, through many cooperative societies and outlets in the country. He explained that the initiative this year includes around 5,000 commodities, with 11 per cent increase in the number of fixed price goods compared to last year.
AED 350 million to support Ramadan discounts
Al Nuaimi also reviewed the support initiatives launched by co-op societies and outlets to ensure reduced prices for a wide range of important commodities during the Ramadan and Eid Al Fitr season. The total value of these measures adopted by 650 co-ops and outlets is estimated at AED 350 million. These initiatives will allow 50 – 75 per cent discount on more than 10,000 commodities.
450 inspection visits during Ramadan and 12,681 tours since the beginning of 2018
In terms of market and outlet checks to ensure the commitment of merchants, the Ministry of Economy has set a field inspection plan, to be carried out during and after the holy month of Ramadan, Al Nuaimi explained. These checks will cover cooperative societies, outlets, groceries, in addition to meat, poultry and fish markets across numerous emirates of the country. This will include 450 inspections in total, including both announced and unannounced visits.
Al Nuaimi said that a total of 12,681 inspections linked to consumer protection were conducted from the beginning of 2018 until the end of Q3 2019 to ensure the consolidation of sound consumer and commercial practices and deter violations.
Product recall campaigns
MoE has set up a system to initiate the recall of goods through a special website, and through newspapers, Al Nuaimi said. He further enlightened that the total number of recalls during 2018 amounted to 287,501 through 127 recall campaigns, down by 38 per cent compared to 2017 which included 113 campaigns. The total number of recalls during Q1 2019 was 7,347 through 23 recall campaigns compared to 37campaigns during the same period of 2018.
Al Nuaimi pointed out that the Competition and Consumer Protection Department at the Ministry of Economy received 24,182 consumer complaints between the beginning of Q3 2017 and the end of Q1 2019, which have been resolved in cooperation with the competent authorities in the country. These complaints broadly fell into nine categories, including raising prices, automobiles, electronics, phones, credit cards among others.