Harare — THE cost of living as measured by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe's consumer basket of an urban family of six declined by a marginal 0,001 percent to US$492,34 in April from US$493,25 in March.
The consumer watchdog attributed the decrease to the availability of local products on supermarket shelves saying this has increased competition in the market. During the period under review, there was a small decrease in the cost of the food basket in April from US$138,54 in March 2010 to US$137,31 in April 2010, reflecting a 0,1 percent decrease.
The price of food stuffs and detergents went down slightly from US$148,71 to US$148,34 in April. The cost of the basket for transport, rent, water and electricity, health, education and clothing has remain unchanged at US$344. CCZ said there is still a challenge in the area of water supply where a number of households are still running dry, which points out to the problems in the water services area.
"Consumers are also still concerned about other services such as telephone and electricity. "Confusion among consumers still reigns, because of the large bills households are receiving which do not even show these payments that have been made over the period," CCZ said.
Against this background, CCZ said there is a need to cast the net wider to investigate other utilities saying it was still looking forward to the Competition and Tariff Commission report on Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority.
The council said it is encouraged by the increase of locally manufactured goods available in most supermarkets.
"It is essential now that the environment sees healthy capacity utilisation by producers and manufactures, which will ensure Zimbabwean goods get a competitive edge over imported goods. CCZ encourages those outlets that sell in house brands to increase and continue this trend as it caters for the lowly paid and allows them to stretch their money," read part of the statement.
Meanwhile CCZ has called on the Government to consider putting in place a standards regulatory authority that ensures mandatory enforcement of standards to safeguard welfare of consumers.
Deputy executive director Mrs Rosemary Mpofu said there is need to work on these standards to support the local market by retaining consumer confidence.
"We are lobbying for regulatory authority checks on the standard of goods on the market.
"There has been an overwhelming increase in the number of complaints regarding sub-standard and counterfeit goods on the market," she said.
She added that many counterfeit goods were in form of clothing and electrical gadgets such as televisions and cellphones. "Consumers must make informed decisions on what they buy thus we have started consumer education informing them about their responsibilities on their buying awaiting a regulatory measure,"
Standards Association of Zimbabwe, Director General Mrs Eve Gadzikwa said they have also noted with concern the increase of counterfeit goods on the market.
"We are very concerned about this issue and we are encouraging consumers to report to the relevant authorities when they get these counterfeits.
"Customers need to be aware of the quality of goods they are buying and know that they have rights as consumers," she said.
At the moment laws pertaining to standards are being enforced by different Government departments such as Zimbabwe Revenue Authority however there is concern that there should be an overall body that conducts random checks periodically to verify the standard of goods being sold in the country.