Fish prices to be fixed to prevent manipulation

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The government is taking steps to tighten screws on the retail fish trade and check price manipulation by fixing the rates of fish and other seafood items like prawns and lobsters on a daily basis.

The state-controlled pricing will likely apply to fish auctioned at the central market as also to imported stocks.

Retail prices will be fixed by the Consumer Protection Department (CPD) and a price list will be released every morning.

The CPD, an arm of the Ministry of Business and Trade, also fixes and monitors daily pricing of fresh vegetables and fruits.

The price-fixing move for fish and other seafood items by the CPD is aimed at benefiting the consumers who are left at the mercy of the wholesalers and retailers.

They manoeuvre the prices based on daily catch and demand and supply. Retailers at the Central Fish Market as well as at other outlets such as malls and hypermarkets will be required to prominently display price tags on a daily basis.

Consumers have long been complaining that shopping complexes like malls and hypermarkets sell fish and other fresh seafood stocks at prices much higher than those at the central market.

They, however, offer price discounts on certain items and make announcements through the media and by sending text messages to their regular customers.

Despite the higher prices, an increasing number of customers now prefer shopping malls to avoid the unfriendly environment at the central fish market.

As a result, sales at the central market have been plummeting and as a boosting effort the evening auctions were also begun a while ago. But that has not helped sales to pick up.

The State Cabinet yesterday approved a draft decision of the Ministry of Business and Trade that specifies where seafood auctions would take place and how and how their rates — both retail and wholesale — will be fixed.

The draft decision of the Ministry also talks about controlling the wholesale and retail pricing of imported fish and other seafood items.

The draft is expected to be ratified by the higher-ups for implementation soon. There is the likelihood the role of middlemen in the wholesale trade of fresh vegetables and fruits might also be altered for the benefit of the consumers.

source : Qatar Chronicle