The Jordanian Ministry of Trade and Industry said on Sunday it regrets dairy manufacturers' adamant refusal to lower the recent hike on their products, but said it has no legal jurisdiction over the issue.
"We cannot interfere in the pricing scale, as the law does not allow us to," said Samer Tawil, the ministry's secretary general. “We are sorry that they stand firm concerning the increase, after they presented a proposal to lower the hike," added the official.
Amid public pressure to reduce the hike, which was sparked immediately after the decision was announced in the local press, manufacturers had presented the ministry with a new lower pricing list, but retracted after the Consumer Protection Society (CPS) expressed dissatisfaction over the price change.
A spokesman for the manufacturers countered that as manufacturers "we tried to reach an understanding with the society, but some accusations against us, including alleged profits we make, left no room for any understanding."
He added that the government understood the manufacturers' position and the reasons behind the rise, which they attribute to higher production costs, marketing difficulties, fierce competition, and the introduction of the second stage of the General Sales Tax.
The spokesman, preferring anonymity, also rejected the accusation that the hike move is a monopoly, saying that announcing the hike in newspapers was to educate consumers about the change in prices so that any price-cheating attempts might be avoided.
The CPS, announced it was going ahead with a national campaign to boycott dairy products, adding that it was about to finish an opinion poll which gauges the feasibility of housewives manufacturing dairy products at home.
"We are out of it, this is a free market, and the prices are floated, it is up to consumers, concerned associations and manufacturers to decide on the price issue," Tawil said in an interview with the Jordan Times.
Two weeks ago, eleven of the Kingdom's dairy companies announced a price increase of between JD.020-JD.010 on yogurt, lebaneh, shanineh (liquid yogurt) and jamid. Except for the one liter container of pasteurized milk, milk prices remained unchanged. — ( Jordan Times )
By Rana Awwad
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )