Charities can run neighborhood stores

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Okaz

THE Ministry of Commerce and Investment, as part of its national campaign to combat business cover-up or tasattur, is working in full gear to put an end to the phenomenon, which has harmed the national economy, exhausted our markets and put strains on our development plans.

The ministry is doing a great job in educating the Saudi citizens about the social, economic and security dangers resulting from business cover-ups.

Among the big problems in this fight are the small grocery stores inside the neighborhoods. All efforts of the ministry to streamline these stores are met with by the expatriate traders who control the food market and the supply chains.

They work against the ministry’s efforts and prevent it from achieving the stated goals or at least slow them down.

The lobby of expat traders also puts pressure on Saudi citizens working in this sector so that their compatriots can replace them. This lobby cranks up the cost of supplying goods and sometimes refuses to deal with the Saudis running grocery stores. Over time, these expats manage to build a big wall that prevents the Saudi from working in the sector.

The number of charity associations in the Kingdom is around 700. This is in addition to more than 150 non-profit institutions across the country.

In each area of the Kingdom, there are at least 10 charities operating. In big cities with a high density of population, like Makkah, their number goes to as high as 120. These charities can open grocery stores inside neighborhoods as non-profit ventures. This way, they will break the monopoly of expats in the sector by training Saudis who want to work in this all important field and prepare them to replace the expats.

Secondly, it will increase the pressure on grocery stores that are operating under the cover-up arrangement. Thirdly, it will help the Saudi citizens to lower their budget for the purchase of grocery items.

The most important thing is that these non-profit grocery stores will only sell genuine products. Gangs involved in commercial fraud usually distribute outdated food products through small grocery stores that are run as cover-up operations.

When the charities open non-profit centers to sell food products, only covering their overhead costs, that will not only help achieve the goal of replacing the expat workers but also will encourage the Saudis to enter the field, especially as they will be working under the umbrella of a charity association.

The Ministry of Commerce and Investment can take this step to achieve its objectives with the full support of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development. All it needs is the initiative from the part of the charity associations.


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