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Mnangagwa's govt to investigate the latest spate of basic commodity price hikes

by Staff reporter
10 May 2023 at 00:57hrs | Views
A CABINET committee has been set up to investigate the latest spate of basic commodity price increases as Government moves to ensure corrective measures are taken to protect consumers.

The intervention follows an outcry by consumers who say they are being pushed to the receiving end by a  wave of unjustified price increases that pushed the cost of living up by  11 percent in April, according to ZimStat.

Government has also rebuked some unscrupulous traders, mainly in the informal sector, for demanding payment for goods and services exclusively in foreign currency, a practice that violates the dual currency regulations and is leading to artificial shortages of some items in shops

Cabinet has since appointed Industry and Commerce Minister, Dr Sekai Nzenza; Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, and Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services, Dr Jenfan Muswere to lead the committee tasked with addressing the pricing distortions.

Yesterday Dr Nzenza briefed Cabinet on the pricing concerns for basic food supplies, and extensive deliberations were made, said Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa while briefing the media after the Cabinet meeting in Harare.

She said the committee will make recommendations to Cabinet on action to be taken.

"The nation is being informed that Cabinet is concerned by the spiralling prices of the 14 basic goods, especially bread, flour, cooking oil and mealie-meal.

"The Minister of Industry and Commerce is already engaging the concerned stakeholders including manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and other associations on the matter," said Minister Mutsvangwa.

"Given the urgency of the matter, Cabinet has set up a Committee to quickly investigate, monitor and make appropriate recommendations to Cabinet with a view to bringing sanity to the situation."

She said Dr Nzenza will soon issue an appropriate statement on the matter.

"Cabinet wishes to assure the nation that corrective measures will be taken in order to protect the transacting public," she said.

Earlier, Dr Nzenza had said the Government was monitoring the pricing situation and assured consumers that corrective measures were being taken to protect consumers. She chided operators who are demanding forex only for frustrating consumers.

"It has come to our attention that some suppliers of basic commodities have been observed demanding payment exclusively in foreign currency for certain basic commodities in violation of the dual currency pricing system adopted by the Government," she said.

"Furthermore, a few manufacturers of basic goods have been observed selling goods that are below the prescribed weight and volume and corrective action will always be taken to protect consumers."

Government is on record calling upon producers and traders to embrace fair business practices and treat their customers with dignity in line with the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act.

As such, Dr Nzenza said the ministry has held frank and fruitful engagements with manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers of basic commodities over the past week in a bid to find a lasting solution to the observed matter.

She said all stakeholders concerned are being engaged and are committed to finding a lasting solution to this situation.

"The ministry, in liaison with relevant arms of Government, continues to advocate for the availability of foreign currency to productive sectors of the economy and to achieve macro-economic stability. We also assure the private sector that issues brought forward in our engagements are being attended to for the benefit of the consumers," said Dr Nzenza.

Contacted for comment, Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) president Mr Mike Kamungeremu said the shortage of foreign currency on formal platforms was forcing businesses to raise their own through sales so as to keep their businesses running.

"The response that I am getting on the USD issue is that they are not getting enough foreign currency from the bank and they are now trying to use their products to generate the forex that they need to import raw materials and settle local bills that need to be settled exclusively in USD for example fuel purchases and electricity," he said.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Mr Denford Mutashu has said the increasing dollarisation of the economy has created a dilemma for traders who are now forced to pay for goods upfront in United States dollars, thereby frustrating demand for local currency usage, amid concerns over the recent weakening of the local dollar, especially on the parallel market.

Source - The Chronicle