Prices in Saudi Arabia have not dropped by 2 percent in line with global prices in the first half of the year because of poor government oversight, greedy merchants and voracious consumption by the populace, according to economists.
A member of the Saudi Economic Association, Essam Khalifa, accused the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of not doing anything to control prices, particularly food prices.
He said he was surprised to find Saudi goods exported and sold at cheaper prices in Gulf markets. He said prices in the Kingdom should be cheaper because of the large domestic consumer market and subsidy support.
There is no control over the pricing by traders, resulting in many making a profit at the expense of the consumer, he added.
Economist Abdullah Al-Moghlut said Saudi consumers were also responsible to some degree for the unexplained rise in prices. Some 30 percent of food used in banquets held in Ramadan go waste.
He said the ministry should revise prices in accordance with data from global markets. He said it is rare to see prices drop in the Kingdom.
Economist Abdulrahman Al-Salmi said there was an urgent need to establish cooperative societies, or low-price stores, to provide goods to consumers at a reasonable profit margin. This has been successfully implemented for years in Arab and Gulf markets.
He said greedy traders were exploiting consumers despite the fact that most goods are either not subjected to customs duties, or completely exempted.