Muna Al-Fuzai

With the advent of the holy month of Ramadan, people get into a shopping frenzy and usually complain about high prices. This is repeated every year, but whose fault is it? Are people exaggerating the issue or is there a real hike in prices? Do the complaints stem from a lack of a shopping culture or the greed of some merchants who deliberately raise prices during this period for more gains?

As usual, some parliamentarians began demanding that the ministry of commerce tighten control over greedy traders because of negative repercussions on the standard of living of low-income people. MP Mohammed Al-Dallal said “the government should develop a clear methodology to confront the phenomenon of the rise in prices because this is no longer acceptable,” calling for the activation of the consumer protection law and its implementation and regulation to control prices. Also, MP Khalil Al-Saleh pointed out that official statistics indicate an increase in inflation in Kuwait compared to other Gulf countries.

I believe that the government is required to take serious action to control price increases, not only to confront those who are trying to raise prices and earn more money, but to deal with poor living conditions and inflation as well. Kuwait’s consumer inflation index rose by 0.98 percent this January compared to January 2017.

I think inflation in Kuwait is imported, especially since we import most goods – from a needle to a car – amid global inflation as well. Also, the availability of cash with people contributes to the pace of consumption of many types of goods and services.

I think we need to control our consumerist behavior and thus reduce the impact of inflation on the economy. For example, it is not reasonable for people to rush to buy a lot of food for one meal such as iftar in Ramadan and throw a large amount of waste at the end of the day, as well as racing to make luxury purchases. I think we need a huge media awareness campaign through the national committee for consumer protection. This committee should carry out sudden inspections of food stores and check the expiry dates of foodstuff and impose strict penalties on price manipulators.

I guess it is natural for a merchant to seek significant gains, especially when there is a demand for his goods. So it is natural to raise prices to achieve the greatest possible profit. But I do believe that there is a need to understand the culture of shopping, which is to buy only what we need and not for showing off the ability of buying everything because we have the money.