(MENAFN - Arab News) Residents have been warned against purchasing rice from traders and importers who have hiked prices of the essential commodity in some instances by as much as 40 percent a source at the commerce ministry told arab news.
inspectors have confirmed this price increase he said. 'the ministry is working with consumer protection agencies to warn rice suppliers against hiking prices. suppliers found to be continuously charging unjustifiably high prices will be fined at least sr40000."
price hikes have coincided with the unprecedented influx of umrah pilgrims this year.
the price of a 10-kg bag of rice now exceeds sr100.
traders have defended the move saying price hikes are the result of imbalanced supply and demand in spite of a global decrease in the price of food commodities.
economists nevertheless have called on ministry inspection teams to make rounds of markets.
shoppers likewise have expressed resentment saying price increases are hardly surprising given lack of a price control mechanism.
many residents complained that prices suddenly started rising two weeks ago without any justification.
most residents have resorted to purchasing smaller five-kilogram bags priced at anywhere between sr40 and sr50 at several stores.
workers in small supermarkets around jeddah have confirmed that about 90 percent of rice sales are made through the five and 10-kg rice bags. ihsan buhulaiga an economist said the ministry is responsible for initiating proper market surveillance.
'the rise in the price of such commodities is unjustified" he said. 'the solution is to strengthen the recently introduced price index and provide a fixed database on the most important food commodities. the introduction of these tools will ensure that shoppers are not ripped off since most people know the true value of these imported items."