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UAE President approves law to regulate strategic stock of food commodities

President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has approved Federal Law No. 3 of 2020 regarding the regulation of the strategic stock of food commodities in the country, which is aimed at organising the food supplies in the event of crises, emergencies and disasters, as well as achieving food sustainability.

The law, whose provisions apply to the supplier and the registered merchant, outlined several obligations to implement its procedures. It also specifies the powers of the Ministry of Economy to implement the provisions of the law.

The ministry also has jurisdiction to prepare reports, studies, statistics and the economic evaluation of the food commodities, estimate the volume of consumption, determine the surplus and deficit, prepare databases on the production and availability of food commodities in the country and countries of origin.

The ministry will then follow-up with suppliers, in addition to coordinating and implementing sustainability and safety policies for the strategic stock of food commodities, in coordination with the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority, NCEMA, and the competent authority, to achieve a safe strategic stock of food commodities.

– Provider and registered merchant’s obligations The law specifies, among its articles, establishing a record of registration and classification of suppliers and merchants. The obligations also include the distribution of the stock of strategic commodities in the event of emergencies, crises or disasters under the distribution plans prepared by the NCEMA in coordination with the competent authority.

The producer or importer is one who provides food commodities to distributors and merchants, whether locally or abroad. The registered merchant is someone who engages in a commercial activity related to food commodities and is licenced in the country to implement this law.

– Warehouses and storage conditions The law obliges the registered merchant to manage the strategic stock of food commodities and the warehouse by specifying the location, area and size of the store designated for the food commodities provided that it is in the country, and to notify the competent authority of the location of the store, as well as storing the stock of food commodities under the specifications and standards adopted in the UAE.

– Incentives and facilities The law specifies, among its articles, that it is permissible to grant incentives and facilities to the registered provider and merchant under the regulations issued by a Cabinet decision.

– Penalties for violators of provisions of the law The law specifies various penalties that include a fine of no less than AED500,000 and not more than AED2,000,000, to whoever violates the obligations outlined in the law for the supplier and the registered merchant.

The law also stipulates that whoever violates the electronic link with the competent authority and the NCEMA to ensure the continuous follow-up of quantities, varieties and status of the strategic stock of food commodities and also violates the preservation and management of the strategic stock of food commodities will be punished with a fine of not less than AED100,000 and not more than AED1,000,000.

Further, anyone who violates the provision of the stock of strategic commodities in the event of emergencies, crises or disasters according to the distribution plans prepared by the NCEMA in coordination with the competent authority will be punished with imprisonment and a fine of not less than AED1,000,000 and not more than AED5,000,000.

In the case of repeated violations, penalties prescribed for the crimes stipulated in this law will be doubled.

– Judicial seizure The law stipulates the possibility for employees, who are determined by a decision of the Minister of Justice in agreement with the Minister of Economy or the head of the competent authority, to have the capacity of judicial seizure officers to prove anything that violates the provisions of the law.