Ministry taking measures to ensure enough food supplies during Ramadan

By Omar Obeidat

AMMAN –– As the holy fasting month of Ramadan will coincide this year with the return of Jordanian expatriates and the tourism high season, the government has started early preparations to ensure food items are available to meet the expected rise in demand.

At a meeting with traders, importers and the Consumer Protection Society, Industry and Trade Minister Hani Mulki stressed that the ministry will take necessary measures to ensure that the supply of basic food commodities during the fasting month meet increasing demand.

The ministry will also take measures to avoid any unjustified rise in food prices, which historically see hikes during the month.

“This year’s Ramadan is different from previous years because it will coincide with the return of Jordanians abroad who will come to spend their holidays in the Kingdom and we also expect the number of Arab tourists to increase significantly in summer,” Mulki said.

More than half a million Jordanians are estimated to be living in the Gulf region, many of whom expected to spend the summer holiday back home.

According to official figures, demand on essential food commodities during the holy month of Ramadan rises by 25-40 per cent, which experts attribute to change of consumption behavior.

Citing ministry figures showing that local production of wheat, barley and vegetables will be enough to cover consumption, the minister expected the prices of food items to remain stable or even go down during the month.

In addition, he said, the government will facilitate importing procedures for the private sector to bring large quantities of foodstuff.

Mulki warned that the ministry could resort to setting a price ceiling in case unreasonably high prices prevail.

Meanwhile, he remarked that authorities will not halt food and vegetable exports to regional and international markets.

The minister rejected as baseless media reports that the government plans to reduce sales tax on certain commodities, saying such reports push importers and traders to be reluctant to bring basic food items into the local market, which he said will affect the strategic storage of these commodities.

Khalil Haj Tawfiq, an importer of foodstuff and a member of Jordan Chamber of Commerce, said importers have asked the government to exempt food products and vegetables from the sales tax in a bid to bring prices down.

Mulki replied that although the state budget is suffering a relatively high deficit, the government is studying such an option to alleviate financial burdens on citizens but a decision in this regard might be included in next year’s budget.

Also attending the meeting were directors of the civil and military consumer corporations who indicated that the corporations have signed deals with suppliers to make sure they have enough stocks of sugar, rice, cooking oil and chicken among others, to meet local needs “even three months after Ramadan”.

10 June 2011

Source: The Jordan Times.
Link: http://www.jordantimes.com/index.php?news=38358.

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