Retailers of baby milk flout govt price cap
A number of pharmacies in the Kingdom are continuing to sell infant milk formula at inflated prices as a two-week deadline announced by the Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Industry to cut down prices is set to expire.
At the same time some pharmacies have begun sending text messages to customers stating their commitment to the Ministry of Commerce’s decision regarding the price reduction of the infant formula.
However, many citizens have urged the ministry to monitor the prices to ensure the actual implementation of the decision, especially in small pharmacies.
Consumers have also called on the Ministry of Trade to tighten controls on pharmacies, retail outlets, and markets, and punish violators for price manipulation. They said some pharmacies have gone to the extent of removing price labels from formula packages in an attempt to keep prices high.
The ministerial decision, which was issued on May 28, set a cap on the price of infant formula with the maximum price of 400 grams of baby milk set at SR29, 700 grams at SR49, 800 grams of at SR56, and the price of 900 grams set at SR63.
The Ministry gave all companies, retail outlets, and pharmacies throughout the Kingdom a maximum of 15 days to charge the new prices.
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Competition Council launched investigations into larger institutions, manufacturers, and importers of infant formula in the Kingdom.
The decision was issued in response to the increased prices of baby milk powder, and as a means to ensure the commitment of the owners of manufacturers, importers and retailers to regulations.
According to the decision, violators of any market competition regulations face a financial penalty of up to 10 percent of the total sales, which is to be doubled for repeat offenses.
A source at the Ministry of Commerce urged citizens and residents to cooperate with the ministry by reporting any price violations using the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s portal at http://mci.gov.sa/Pages/default.aspx, by tweeting the Ministry at @SaudiMCI, or by calling the Ministry’s hotline at 1900 or 920 000 667, or the toll-free phone 800-124-1616. He said customers should help identify any violating pharmacy or retailer that fails to abide by the deadline.