The Minister of Commerce and Industry and the Minister of State for Youth Affairs, Muhammad Al-Aiban, has devised a comprehensive roadmap aimed at addressing inflation and the soaring prices of essential food commodities, particularly major ones.
He told the Al-Rai daily that the responsibility for executing this plan rests not only with the Council of Ministers but also extends to multiple government agencies and cooperative societies.
Minister Al-Aiban’s strategy for effectively combating local inflation in the face of the ongoing global price hikes due to external factors encompasses ten critical recommendations. These recommendations include the elimination of price fixing and the postponement of the implementation of the value-added tax.
Importantly, the proposed solutions to tackle the high prices of food commodities go beyond immediate recommendations. They encompass a broader range of measures that can be implemented in the short to medium term. This holistic approach is intended to foster sustainable price stability within the local market and mitigate the risks associated with elevated global inflation rates.
Al-Aiban’s urgent recommendations included the following 10 proposals:
— Exempting basic goods in cooperative societies from the profit margin rate for a minimum period of two years.
— Reducing the period for paying suppliers’ dues to cooperative societies for all goods so that it does not exceed 15 days.
— Replacing the value of the free item with a reduction in the value of the commodity.
— Activating the role of the Competition Protection Authority in cooperative societies to ensure the absence of monopolistic practices for a minimum period of two years to avoid the expected effects of rising prices of food commodities.
— Fixing the prices of electricity, water, and the usufruct of state property for cooperative societies for a minimum period of two years to avoid the expected effects of rising prices of food commodities.
— Reconsidering administrative costs, especially salaries for cooperative societies.
— Stop hiring for administrative positions in cooperative societies and limit them to national workers in coordination with the Civil Service Commission.
— Reconsidering and reviewing appointment procedures in cooperative societies to be in accordance with the requirements of the Civil Service Commission.
— Cancellation of Ministry of Commerce and Industry Resolution No. 67 of 2020 regarding price fixing.
— Canceling the Price Fixation Committee in “Commerce” which was formed in 2015, so that the Federation of Cooperative Societies reconstitutes it within its committees.
Minister Al-Aiban’s vision in this regard included more than one aspect, as he presented two recommendations centered on the the Public Authority for Agriculture Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAFR), which are:
— Providing more public warehouses to maintain food security, provided that this is the responsibility of the Council of Ministers – the Agriculture Authority.
— Expanding the opening of border crossings to import meat, proposing, for example, opening the Abdali crossing to import Turkish meat, provided that the Ministry of Interior and the PAAAFR are responsible for this recommendation.
In addition, Minister Al-Aiban recommended four things to the General Authority of Customs:
— Suspending customs duties and service fees on basic food commodities for two years imposed by Customs.
— Suspending the fees imposed by the Kuwait Ports Authority on the services provided for imported shipments of food commodities for a period of two years.
— Expanding the opening of border crossings to import meat.
— Postponing the application of value added tax.
In addition to the above, Al-Aiban’s vision in combating the rise in food commodity prices included 7 other recommendations for which more than one party are responsible.
He also recommended the following
— Stopping increases on any state fees on food imports for at least two years (the responsibility of the Council of Ministers).
— Reconsidering the Cooperatives Law to provide greater oversight of the practices of boards of directors in cooperative societies and strengthening governance in the societies (the responsibility of the Ministry of Labor Affairs and the Federation of Associations).
— Working to develop and accelerate customs facilities (the responsibility of the General Authority of Customs).
— Postponing any decisions related to the dumping tariff locally (the responsibility of the General Authority of Customs).
— Adopting models for the privatization of cooperative societies to avoid inflation in administrative costs and support the state’s direction to enhance the role of the private sector in the economy (the responsibility of the Kuwait Investment Authority, the Ministry of Commerce, and PAAAFR).
— Intensifying media and awareness campaigns to rationalize food consumption (the responsibility of the Ministry of Information).