Trade Ministry to fine businesses selling staple products higher than control price

The Trade Ministry will force the sale of staples including rice, flour and sugar according to a price control list.

The ministry said that businesses selling flour, sugar and rice higher than the price control list will be fined up to Rf 100,000 (US$6500).

‘’Items should be available at the specified prices at all venues trading in these items from May 16, 2011,’’ the ministry said, adding that the enforcement was justified under Article 7 (a) of the Consumer Protection Act (Act number 1/96).

According to the ministry’s price control list for the capital Male’, flour has to be sold at Rf3.28 per kilo, sugar Rf4.30 per kilo and normal rice Rf4.28 per kilo. For the rest of Kaafu Atoll, the price of flour per kilo is Rf3.56, sugar Rf4.58 per kilo and normal rice Rf4.56 per kilo. Meanwhile in Seenu Atoll in the country’s south flour must be sold for Rf3.98 per kilo, sugar Rf5 per kilo and normal rice Rf4.98 per kilo.

The control price of flour per kilo for Haa Alifu Atoll is Rf3.81, Sugar Rf4.83 and the price for normal rice is Rf4.81.

For Haa Dhaalu Atoll, the price of flour is Rf3.76 per kilo, Sugar Rf4.78 per kilo and normal rice Rf4.76 per kilo.

In Shaviyan Atoll flour has to be sold for Rf3.71 per kilo, Sugar Rf4.73 per kilo and normal rice Rf4.71 per kilo while in Noonu Atoll flour has to be sold for Rf3.66 per kilo, sugar Rf4.68 per kilo, normal rice Rf4.66 per kilo.

In Raa Atoll flour has to be Rf3.68 per kilo, sugar Rf 4.70 per kilo and normal rice has to be sold Rf4.68 per kilo.

As for Baa Atoll, price of flour mentioned in the control list is Rf3.61 per kilo, sugar Rf4.63 per kilo and normal rice Rf4.61 per kilo.

According to the list, price for flour in Lhaviyani Atoll has to be Rf3.61 per kilo, sugar Rf4.63 per kilo and normal rice Rf4.61 per kilo.

While in Fuvamulah flour has to be sold at Rf3.94 per kilo, sugar Rf4.96 per kilo and normal rice Rf4.94 per kilo.

Recently a group of youths along with some opposition political figures protested in the streets of Male’ calling for the government to reduce the price of products and reduce living costs, and opposed the government’s decision to implement a managed float of the rufiya within a 20 percent band of the pegged rate of Rf12.85 to the dollar.

The move comes on top of a decision last week to halve the import duty on diesel, used to fuel the country’s extensive dhoni fleet.


Trade Ministry to require English or Dhivehi food labels by June

The Trade Ministry has said that all food items manufactured or imported to the Maldives from June for the purpose of trade should contain information about a product in Dhivehi or English on its packaging.

The new requirements will call for information concerning the ingredients used, the weight or measurements of the finished product, the country and date of origin, shelf-life and instructions on usage to be included on any goods being sold.

”The deadline set for labelling of food items already imported to the Maldives in accordance with the above requirements is 31 May 2011,” said the Trade Ministry in a press release.

The ministry said this announcement was made under Article 12 of Act number 1/96 (Consumer Protection Act) and any business found by officials of violating the ruling will see its owner fined Rf100,000 (US$7843).

”If an imported food item does not include the above information, it should be labelled in English or Dhivehi prior to the trading of the item in any inhabited island of Maldives,” the statement said.

“If any food items are not labelled according to these requirements after 1 June 2011, the owner of the business will be fined up to the amount of Rf100,000.”

The Trade Ministry was unable to comment further on the decision at the time of going to press.

Correction: An earlier headline for this story stated that labels would be required to be dual language. This has been clarified as English or Dhivehi.


Fuel sellers cheating customers, says Fuel Association

“Almost every” fuel seller in the Maldives is taking advantage of lax certification to cheat their customers by using inaccurate meters, the President of the Fuel Association of the Maldives has claimed.

Mohamed Rasheed accused the trade ministry of failing to certify petrol station meters and allowing the industry to take advantage of consumers for more than 30 years.

The trade ministry retaliated by saying it was impossible for them to check every fuel meter in the Maldives, and blamed the fuel suppliers for failing to inform the trade ministry the meters were uncertified.

Rasheed criticised the trade ministry for being “irresponsible”, claiming that the problem was a big drain on money for both consumers and the Maldivian government.

Chairman of Fisherman Union Ibrahim Umar said the organisations had received many complaint from fishermen that the fuel sellers are “cheating” them by showing them inaccurate measurements from uncertified meters.

Umar claimed that sometimes the fuel sellers “take half a barrel by showing the consumers the wrong meter.”

At a press confernce today, Rasheed called on the trade ministry to approve a law that every fuel station in the Maldives must be certified by the ministry.

Director of the Trade Ministry Solih Hussein said “if the fuel sellers inform us today [they have an uncertified meter] we will put on the seal by tomorrow morning.”

Furthermore, Solih accused the Fuel Association Of Maldives of contradicting its own rules and regulations by exposing its own members to accusations of impropriety by their consumers.

“The Fishermens’ Union can now file a lawsuit against the Fuel Association of Maldives, as they have been selling fuel without certifying their meters, while many of consumers remain unaware of this certification,’ Solih said.

He calls on every consumer in the Maldives not to buy anything measured using a uncertified meter “whether it’s fuel, rice or vegetables.”