By Doaa Farid
The technical departments of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce (FECC) have found that agriculture products, especially fruits and vegetables, are traded in the retail market at inflated prices, placing more burdens on Egyptian families, according to a statement from FECC on Sunday.
FECC added that the determination of mandatory prices by the state has long led to the recovery of black and parallel markets, and outlaws from the formal framework are the only ones who benefit from it.
The economic ministerial group headed by Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi agreed in a meeting last week to impose mandatory commodities prices, which they say merchants overestimate. The cabinet gave a grace period of a week for these prices to return to normal.
FECC also stated that through the economic studies they currently perform with the assistance of economic experts and those who are concerned with matters of logistics management, it has been shown that in dealing with the inflated prices phenomenon, an immediate treatment should be included. This entails that the FECC, in coordination with all chambers of commerce in all provinces, declares the daily weighted averages of wholesale prices and consumer prices to serve as a reference to consumers for comparison.
According to the statement, prices will be calculated by the averages of the price of wholesalers, transportation costs, labor costs and every direct and indirect costs before the goods reach consumers.
“Thus, the average price of each item will vary from one city to another, and is according to the specifications of each product and the retail market in which the product is shown,” the statement read.
The statement also refers to the second way of treating inflated prices: developing the internal trade system, which will “improve the efficiency of the supply side, which [in turn] will balance the market automatically and lower prices.”
Development of internal trade will involve the development of supply chains, transportation and logistics, “which is responsible for the cost increase.” It also involves establishing commodity exchange centres in the provinces that include units for sorting, packing and pricing.
FECC said that it “depends on the scientific analysis by a team of specialist consultants, and works on transferring the experiences of developed countries which take into account the accepted and agreed upon business rules.”
Ministry of Supply spokesperson, Mahmoud Ziad, said last Monday that a committee will be formed from representatives from the Ministry of Supply, the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce and merchants, and will be tasked with determining a fixed pricing policy according to profit margins.
In a press statement from the Ministry of Supply last week, the Minister of Supply and Local Trade Mohamed Abu Shady said that the compulsory pricing will come through intensifying the regulatory campaigns by the ministry inspectors and the Consumer Protection Agency across all markets, according to state-run news agency MENA.
Meanwhile, Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour also said that the government will not allow an “unjustified increase” in prices, adding that the government is committed to setting reasonable prices for basic items to meet the needs of consumers, MENA reported last week.