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Kuwait cooperatives oppose govt over privatisation plan

TEHRAN, September 18, 2023 – Kuwait Union of Consumer Cooperative Societies is against the government’s plan to privatise the country’s cooperative retail societies.

According to Arab Times, the President of the Union of Consumer Cooperative Societies, Abdul Wahab Al-Fares, and other cooperative leaders, have rejected the recommendations of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry regarding the privatisation of cooperative societies in the country.

“We will not accept the privatisation of cooperative societies under any circumstances. These are shareholders’ rights,” Al-Fares was quoted by Arab Times.

The speculations around the privatisation of retail cooperatives come after the Minister of Commerce and Industry and the Minister of State for Youth Affairs, Muhammad Al-Aiban, came up with a plan to address inflation and the increasing prices of essential food commodities on September 5, 2023.

The plan comprises 10 recommendations, including such adopting models for the privatisation of cooperative societies to reduce administrative costs and bolster the role of the private sector in the economy, under the jurisdiction of the General Investment.

Another recommendation made is revisiting the country’s cooperatives law to enhance oversight of the board of directors’ practices in cooperative societies and strengthen governance, overseen by the Ministry of Labour Affairs and the Federation of Associations.

Last month, the Union signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to oversee the pricing of goods and services within cooperative societies and parallel markets.

Under the MoU, the Union will allow the Ministry of Commerce to access its price database. The data to be shared will include product details such as the product’s name, brand, size and weight, country of origin, price and barcode.

The Union has also recently launched a price disclosure platform featuring prices for over 139,000 types of commodities with the aim of tackling artificially inflated prices across cooperative societies, maintaining price balance and facilitating transparency in pricing across cooperatives. The Union said it conducted market inspections to ensure adherence to price guidelines.

Kuwait is home to over 60 consumer co-operatives, which account for 60 percent of the grocery landscape.

Source: Arab Times

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