Between price anarchy and merchant’s greediness [Archives:2005/864/Business & Economy]

August 1 2005

By Nabil Al-Osaidy
For the Yemen Times

The late sharp rise in prices compelled people to abstain from buying most necessary things or sometimes reduce them to minimum. The minister of Trade and industry, Khalid Rajih Shaikh confirmed that they are watching and controlling the market, through their field teams that they established in all the governorates.

This is in addition to their intention to re-establish the general price supervision administration. In spite of that prices are still very high, with variations in the percentage from one place to another. Many items disappeared with indicators that the merchants have stored them in the hope of selling them in the black market when their prices rise.

Unheeded Warnings

The minister who is often on air these days keeps warning the merchants of the consequences of raising prices. He threatens that sever measures would be taken against those who exploit the events of increase in fuel price increase, and the chaos that followed. He asserted that they have filed law suits against a number of merchants, because they have cheated in prices.

The minister has repeatedly declared that his ministry will announce a package of commodity prices, so that people can choose their alternatives, of prices that suit them. This will cause a real competition on commodities and consequently a reduction in prices. The minister invited all citizens to report to the authorities on any disregard for the prices. The merchants argue that what is published in the media is incredible. They allege that the wholesale dealers control the real prices, while the government turns a deaf ear to them, then it blames small merchants.

Uncurbed greed

The last riots generated a random sky rocketing in prices, it was driven by greed and absence of supervision, taking the chance of the engagement of security authorities elsewhere.

Many merchants blame the rise of the petroleum increase for price hike. Some merchants have stored a large quantity of goods even before the announcement of the increase in fuel prices, in the hope of raising their prices afterwards.

Mr. Salim Al-Ma'mary, manager of internal trade in the ministry of Trade and Industry, said that they have detained more than 95 merchants in each of Sa'ada, Hajaa, Dhamar and the Capital Secretariat, because they rose the prices of commodities. Mr. Alma'amary added that, the detained cases were a personal behavior in price rising.

Pm Abdul Gadir BaJamal said that the economy would of collapsed if these reforms were not applied. He added that his government wanted to deduct $500million from the diesel subsidies every year, in a frame of an agreement reached with the World Bank. These reforms are meant to address the budget deficit and the growing, unemployment and the burucracy.

Buy from the newspaper

People depended on the media to follow the prices after the anarchy that prevailed in the markets. Most of the merchants refused to accept the declared prices. They mock the people by saying, “Go and buy from the newspaper,” or ” let the newspaper sell you with those price.”

The newspapers confirm that the commodities are available in large amounts, with their same previous prices. The local markets contradict these facts as the prices have doubled, the hour that the increase in fuel prices was announced. The prices of sugar and rice have risen from Yr.3000, to Yr.6000 per sack.

It didn't stop there in this respect. On the day when riots started, all the market places closed down from the morning until the afternoon, where some of them half opened their doors and began selling things demanding high prices, exploiting the people's need for commodities, absence of supervision and the engagement of the authorities in the riots' incidents.

Destroy and sell

There is a phenomenon that should be considered, in the last anarchy that struck the Yemeni cities. As the demonstrators were destroying all that their hands could reach, there were others who were collecting what was destroyed, so as to sell it in other places. They have even taken destroyed car parts to sell them in second hand shops. This is what some demonstrators narrated about the anarchy of the last riots