UAE: New penalties to come into force when updated consumer protection law kicks in
A new mechanism has been devised to validate and justify price hikes by appointing external specialised audit bodies
The UAE’s Ministry of Economy is working on updating federal law No. 15 of 2022 on consumer protection which will have much more details including specific penalties for retailers and other establishments violating the consumers’ rights.
“The executive bulletin is being consulted with stakeholders at the local and federal level, private sector and chambers and is expected to be rolled out in the first half of 2023. It shall cover a lot of aspects and give more clarity. For example, when it comes to violations, if there is a defect in the item purchased, so what is the penalty a customer can claim or raise the issue with the authorities if there is no response from the vendor. These kinds of details will be covered in the update for consumers rights,” said Abdullah Sultan Al Fan Al Shamsi, Assistant Undersecretary for the Monitoring & Following Up Sector at the Ministry of Economy.
The ministry conducted 94,123 inspections in 2022, which found 4,227 violations. In 2023, the number of inspections during the first few months of 2023 stood at 8,170, which resulted in recording 1,030 violations.
“It is not easy for vendors to manipulate the customer now and it is good for all stakeholders, especially for the law enforcement bodies because monitoring of the violations is coming from the customers themselves,” Al Shamsi told Khaleej Times in an interview on Thursday.
While talking about recent requests by the retailers to hike prices of items, he said a new mechanism has been devised to validate and justify price hikes by appointing external specialized audit bodies to ensure that the ministry is on the right track to grant permission for price change.
While speaking during a press conference in Dubai on Thursday, Al Shamsi stressed that the ministry ensures that no unjustified price hikes are applied by suppliers; strengthens mechanisms to counter monopoly practices; and promotes sound trade practices.
The Ministry of Economy held 26 meetings with basic commodity suppliers such as rice, flour, sugar, meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, juices, and others in 2023 to ensure that there are sufficient stocks of these commodities to meet the needs of consumers during Ramadan.
The daily consumption of fruit and vegetables in Dubai has reached 19,000 tons, while the volume of fruit and vegetable exports in Abu Dhabi reached nearly 6,000 tons. The currently available stock of fruit and vegetables amounts to 143,000 tons, the ministry said.
Al Shamsi urged consumers to adhere to conscious purchasing practices, such as keeping the invoice, which is the first step towards guaranteeing their rights and matching them with what they purchased. “It is their guarantee that can be submitted to the concerned government authorities in case of any grievances that violate their rights as a consumer,” he said.