DOHA: The Ministry of Finance and Trade has proposed a new law to give judicial powers to its inspectors monitoring distribution of rations to the citizens, a senior official has said.
The supply department (Tamween), under the Central Tender Committee of the Ministry, had issued smart cards to the citizens last year replacing the traditional paper coupons to make distribution of the rations more organised and transparent.
“The Ministry has requested for a law giving judicial powers (to the inspectors ) to monitor distribution of the subsided items, so that they can punish those manipulating with the rations illegally,” said Khalid Ibrahim Al Noaimi, Director of Tamween, in an interview with Al Sharq.
He said the monitoring department at the Ministry has been conducting regular inspections and surprise raids at distribution outlets to prevent irregularities.
He said most of the complaints from citizens were related to storage of the commodities and shortage in stocks or the distributors’ failure to provide the required quantities.
“If any violation is detected, the inspectors will first issue a warning to the distributor and would cut their quota, if they fail to comply with the instructions,” said Al Noaimi.
The department has set up a hotline (44461666) to receive complaints from citizens. Currently there are about 44,000 Qatari families holding the smart ration cards.
The official said the government has no plans to increase the prices of the subsidized food, despite an increase in the prices in source countries.
A 40kg bag of rice is available at QR65, 25kg bag of sugar at QR25, four cans of edible oil with three litres each at QR35 and canned milk at QR60 (96 cans with 170 grammes each). Besides food, fodder is also supplied to citizens who own cattle.
“The cost is increasing every year but the price is fixed for the citizens. It is not going to change. The state is bearing the additional expenses,” said Al Noaimi. He added that distributors are getting only a marginal profit. He asked the citizens to use the subsidized food responsibly to ensure continuity of the provisions. “They are supposed to take it every month and they can not postpone purchase until next month,” he said.
Currently there are 73 distributors across the country, including 49 authorised centres and 24 Al Meera outlets, besides five distributors for subsidised fodder.
Regarding complaints about a shortage of rice with some distributors, the official said it was caused by a delay in imports.
The issue has been resolved with the arrival of new shipments, Al Noaimi added. Milk is imported from Germany and Holland, edible oil from the UAE, Oman, Singapore, the US, Greece and Japan, rice from India and sugar from the UAE and Germany. “We go to those who can better meet our requirements,” said Al Noaimi.
All shipments directly go the department’s warehouses in Shahania, Al Khor and Al Shamal, from where they are supplied to distributors.The Peninsula