Yemeni markets in RamadanExpired commodities and weak monitoring [Archives:2005/886/Business & Economy]

October 17 2005

Yasser Mohammed Al-Mayyasi
For Muslims the holy month of Ramadan is a great occasion as it sees the pursuit of good morals, valuable lessons, noble meanings of patience and mercy and feeling the need of the poor and needy who led a miserable life.

Recently it is remarkable that the holy month of Ramadan in all the Arab countries has become a season for trade and making good interests by raising prices of foodstuffs, mainly those desired by people during Ramadan.

In Yemen Ramadan has become a month for the passing of expired and smuggled goods, and some of them had been stored for a long time to be then sold in streets. In addition, smuggled clothes are usually sold during this month, particularly as Eid al-Fitr draws nearer.

The holy month of Ramadan has become an occasion for marketing and more consumption that leads to spread of expired products in streets including sweets and cakes that contravene specifications.

Economists confirm that smuggling is responsible for the spread of expired products during the holy month of Ramadan, and in some commodities no one can find the production and expiry dates. The spread of outdated and expired commodities is also attributed to a lack of monitoring role by the concerned parties, such as the Environment Health Authority.

Wholesalers who import such articles are also responsible for spread of expired foodstuffs as they use to store different types of goods to merchandize them in certain occasions, exploiting consumers. Articles that went beyond the expiry period can not be sold in shops, but by vendors in streets.

Most of the commodities merchandized in streets are anonymous and therefore vendors cheat consumers by making rumors of unimaginable price cuts and prizes.

The government and the non-governmental parties should give warnings against the purchase of foodstuffs merchandized in streets, particularly those that contravene specifications and standards. Efforts of government officials could not curb attempt of smugglers, so, they turn to advise consumers against the purchase of articles of unidentified and imitated sources. The government sometimes gives orders to the concerned parties to monitor markets and advise consumers against being attracted by the cheap prices of such articles due to their scant incomes.

It seems difficult to advise locals against being attracted by cheap prices of such commodities as they suffer from poverty and deteriorating economic conditions.

Despite confirmations of official parties, among the Environment Health Authority, that committees working in rotations have been formed to receive notes and complaints of citizens with respect to expired articles merchandized in streets, efforts of monitoring are still weak and never achieved any ambition.

Observers of the Yemeni markets emphasize that the condition of the Yemeni markets is bound to remain flooded with smuggled and expired commodities as long as the purchasing power of citizens is still weak and the lower cost is the most important thing to them.

The official monitoring authorities should be held to account for illegal practices in the Yemeni markets and also for the health of locals. Authorities of environment health, specifications and standards, municipality and supply should always have monitors in the markets. If such a problem is not curbed, numerous diseases such as cancer and food poison will proliferate and illegal trafficking of goods will hit a record.