The Supreme Committee for Consumer Protection, during its latest meeting chaired by H.E. Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy, discussed its plans to support and develop the UAE’s consumer protection system and to strengthen sales outlet monitoring mechanisms across all emirates of the country. The meeting evaluated the progress made in the implementation of the outcomes of the last committee meeting in 2023, developments on the issuance of Federal Decree Law No. 5 of 2023, and amendments to the provisions of Federal Law No. 15 of 2020 on consumer protection. In addition, regulatory decisions regarding the pricing policy of basic consumer goods, in accordance with Cabinet Resolution No. 120 of 2022, and ways to spread financial awareness among consumers were also discussed.
H.E. Bin Touq emphasised that enabling sound consumer practices and protecting consumer rights is a top priority for the Ministry of Economy, in order to develop the regulatory and legislative environment for the economic sector and enhance its governance. This is one of the strategic objectives of the Ministry in line with the objectives of the ‘We the UAE 2031’ vision.
H.E. said: “Thanks to the directives of the wise leadership, the consumer protection system in the country is undergoing continuous development following the issuance of several resolutions in the last phase. These decisions are aimed at supporting the continued growth of this ecosystem, upgrading its mechanisms in accordance with global best practices and solidifying the UAE’s position as a leading global market that provides a safe experience for consumers. They also guarantee rights to suppliers, thus enhancing the UAE’s position as an attractive destination for business and investment in the retail sector.”
In detail, the meeting reviewed developments on the issuance of Federal Decree Law No. 5 of 2023, and amendments to some provisions of Federal Law No. 15 of 2020 on consumer protection. In this regard, H.E. Bin Touq explained that the aim of these amendments is to effectively complete the steps needed to build the legal basis for enabling greater contribution from local departments in the enforcement of the law. This is achieved through strengthening their role in the imposition of administrative penalties for any acts committed in violation of the law and its executive regulations. It also takes into account the flexibility in the structure of the Supreme Committee for Consumer Protection, which allows other parties to participate in its efforts, constituting a consultative approach with regard to consumer protection in the country.
This consequently provides room for cooperation at the federal and local levels and overcomes any challenges faced previously in fully implementing local market regulations.
The meeting discussed the regulatory decisions regarding the pricing policy of essential consumer goods in accordance with Cabinet Decision No. 120 of 2022. These decisions include the ministerial decision regarding the regulation of prices of essential consumer goods, which consist of nine commodities: cooking oil, eggs, dairy products, rice, sugar, poultry, legumes, bread, and wheat. All of these commodities require prior approval from the Ministry of Economy before their prices are increased. A task force consisting of representatives from the Ministry, and other relevant authorities and entities has also been formed to monitor the prices of essential consumer goods. This ensures the scrutiny of all price hike requests received by the Ministry and the subsequent decision-making process. Additionally, there is a ministerial decision on pricing by unit to guarantee complete transparency in prices of consumer goods and enabling consumers to choose suitable products by comparing prices, in line with global best practices in consumer protection.
The committee also emphasised the importance of the code of conduct, which will be issued by a cabinet resolution as a guideline for organising the contractual relationship between the supplier and the retailer.
H.E. Bin Touq pointed out that the Ministry of Economy continues its efforts to supervise all sales outlets across the country to ensure that there are no unjustified price hikes violating the Consumer Protection Law, its executive regulations, and Cabinet Decision No. 120 of 2022. This is done in cooperation with all relevant economic development departments, local and federal authorities, to enhance consumer protection in the country. He further explained that these supervisory efforts have resulted in 284 inspection rounds since the beginning of 2023 until now. Meanwhile, the Ministry has also received 80 requests for the recall of 109,651 defective car parts since the beginning of 2023 until the end of the third quarter.
The Minister of Economy emphasised that the main objective of imposing these administrative penalties and fines on violators is to enable sound consumer practices by increasing compliance with the UAE’s laws and regulations. He expressed his confidence that these efforts will contribute to reducing violations of consumer protection law.
Moreover, H.E. pointed out that the executive regulations of Federal Law No. 15 of 2020 regarding consumer protection, issued by Cabinet Decision No. 66 of 2023, will contribute to deterring violators through the introduction of administrative penalties and fines. The fines issued during inspections start from the issuance of a warning on removal from the commercial register and go up. A total of 46 violators were charged with fines ranging between AED 50,000 to AED 1 million.
The committee also discussed its plan to raise financial awareness among consumers through experts and global specialists. H.E. Bin Touq confirmed that the Ministry of Economy continuously runs awareness campaigns via traditional media, as well as social media, to promote a positive and healthy consumption culture. This includes encouraging consumers to choose from among the many options available in the country’s markets based on their needs and budgets and avoid overbuying, and highlighting the importance of saving invoices for future purposes.
The Supreme Committee for Consumer Protection performs several strategic tasks to develop the consumer protection system and enable sound consumer and commercial practices in the country.
This includes ensuring the enforcement of relevant legislation in the state’s markets in an optimal manner, formulating general policies related to consumer protection, examining proposals, recommendations, regulations, and reports related to consumer protection and making necessary decisions on them. It also develops recommendations related to price movements in local markets, and plans and programs to educate and raise consumer awareness on their rights and obligations.
The committee members include H.E. Abdullah Al Saleh, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy and Deputy Chairman of the committee; H.E. Abdullah Sultan Al Fan Al Shamsi, Assistant Undersecretary For Monitoring & Follow-up at the Ministry of Economy, who is also the committee’s rapporteur, and representatives from the economic development departments in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah, and Fujairah, as well as a group of consumer protection experts from the private sector.