Exhibition merchants to YT,Sales tax escalates prices, exhaust the poor pockets [Archives:2005/885/Business & Economy]

October 13 2005

Mahyoub Al-Kamaly
Tradesmen of consumer goods exhibitions and showrooms in the capital Sana'a attribute the rise in foodstuffs prices in Ramadan to the general tax on sales and its impact on prices of imported goods. They consider the law despite that it included exempts but it has imposed high taxes on merchants and that pushed them to regain them from the consumer.

In the month of Ramadan the fasting people's appetite increases for foodstuffs and therefore there are many groups of commercial exhibitions announcing discounts on the value of their exhibits but some are mere imaginary. He merchants say the fasting people in Ramada increase their demand for foodstuffs and every year Ramadan foodstuffs exhibitions witness increasing demand but this year the situation appeared difficult because of the economic crisis and delay in paying the increase in salaries. The merchants hold comparison with previous years in buying required food stuffs in the month of Ramadan. Markets are witnessing crowds of purchasers, some of them are well-to-do and can buy what they want but others suffice themselves to buying small quantities of spices and deserts just because of their financial incapability to buy all what they desire. Moreover prices of some goods have risen noticeably for reasons ascribed to rise in customs and increase in the general tax on sales and consequently the merchants resorted to add the added value to the prices of consumer goods.

Although commercial exhibitions are preceded with large-scale promotional advertisements including a talk on huge sales on prices but the time the consumer visits them he would surprised and shocked about the contradiction between advertisements and tangible rise in prices of goods. I this case the consumer would be bewildered and confused between buying and leaving to other markets where he would face rather the same situation.

Visitors to commercial exhibitions say this year's prices are very high and they could not buy but few simple things such as spices and custards and delayed purchasing other foodstuffs until receiving their salaries and the increment on which they attach hope to solve some of their problems. People who are not government employees also say the situation is difficult and complicated. They don't pin hope on income increase but they are victims of general taxes on sales, repeated price and economic doses. Visitors to the commercial exhibitions we have interviewed confirm that the declared discounts are unreal and they are just false propaganda. Some goods prices are the same in other markets. They stress that commercial exhibitions this year are different than those in previous years regarding the rarity absence of many required goods for this month in addition to rise and fluctuation of prices in the pavilions and that leads to the consumer to be a victim to that false propaganda.

Those in charge of exhibitions pavilions admit that the rush this year by buyers is low compared to past years. In their view the cause is the big rise in prices and that the difference in prices between their goods and those in the market is simple and not exceeding one-hundred riyals. They blame the rise in prices on the manufacturing companies that did not reduce the product price even very little to enable them reduce their prices. Nevertheless, despite the reduced price of some goods the buyer still complains their high price. Commercial exhibitions men claim they sell their products at wholesale prices and those prices the citizen could not get at ordinary markets. On the other hand owner of a pavilion selling dates says there is big demand for buying all kinds of dates but the difference is that people this year do not buy big quantities rather than buying in kilos. He adds that dates prices are a bit higher than last year. Owner of another pavilion for selling dates says the rise in prices of dates is attributed to monopoly of big merchants who supplied little quantities of the goods to the markets in order to sell with the price they want. Owner of a pavilion for selling spices and nuts describes buyers demand as good but not the same as last year and the prices are reasonable, especially for those imported directly by merchants. As for prices of canned foods he says they are expensive because the manufacturing companies have not made any reduction on prices. Buying various kinds imported goods is slower this year compared to previous years because of their high prices compared to local products and that also attributed to the general tax on sales that pushed up the prices and emptied the consumers' wallets.