Baby Milk Powder: Government Evades Responsibility for Exploitation of Consumers

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Baby Milk Powder: Government Evades Responsibility for Exploitation of Consumers

Enab Baladi Issue # 81 – Sunday August 8, 2013

حليب الأطفال في سورياAs prices are rising rapidly, the Syrian citizens have decided to stop buying anything that has risen over the reasonable price, and lowering their consumption of the other items to the minimum.

But this method is useless when it comes to the children’s diet, especially milk. Till now there is a high demand on milk in the market, even though the price of milk has been rising continually during the past few months. Even with all that, some brands have been out of stock for a while now. The citizens are surprised that the Syrian government didn’t work on providing milk for them; rather they raised the prices making it harder than ever to get.

Pricing Chaos

With the loose control of pricing by the government, the pricing chaos has reached infant’s milk. The price of this item is now in the hands of the importer and the seller’s mood, and the exchange rate of the Syrian Lira. In a tour to some of the pharmacies in Damascus by “Enab Baladi” reporter, she noticed the differences in the prices of milk. The price difference was insane; the difference ranged from 300 to 500 Syrian Pounds for one carton. That is about 20% to 30% depending on the brand of the milk.

The reporter asked pharmacist Ahmad, who is an owner of a pharmacy in Almujtahed, Damascus, about the disparity in the prices of milk. He made it clear that “the disparity is due to the exploitation of the crisis by some importers, they raise the prices according to the high exchange rate of the Syrian Lira, and there is no censorship from the Ministry of Health or any other official party.”

From the point of view of Huda, an employee in the Pharmacists Syndicate: << the syndicate is not responsible for the shortage in the market>>. According to Huda, the syndicate distributes milk from the available brands to each pharmacy depending on the amount of milk available in the syndicate’s storage; each pharmacy gets one box of milk, and the quantity could decrease to 3 cartons of milk.

The Consumers’ Suffering

The citizen that has nothing to do with the rising prices, has to cope with the situation and stop buying important items so he/she could provide food his/her child. It is something that is mandatory for their kids and they cannot reduce their need for it.  Abo Khaled, who works in one of the grocery stores in Damascus, <<I spend half of my income to buy milk for my baby, we sleep on a price and wake up to another price>>. Abo Khaled is surprised that the prices increase whenever the dollar goes up, even though there are large quantities stored by the importers, he proves that this is true by stating that most of the cartons of milk he bought from three months till now have the same production and expiration dates. But the prices of the same cartons rise by the amount of 200 Syrian Liras each month.

With all the daily suffering that the citizens are going through lies a question by most, doesn’t the children’s milk deserve to be supported by the regime that considers itself the ruler of the country till now? Where are the patrols of the Ministry of Health to control the prices of children’s milk in the market? What is stopping the Ministry of Health from importing children’s milk and selling it for reasonable prices, rather than making them the victim of the importers’ and traders’ manipulations?

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