Maputo — The Mozambican authorities imposed fines totalling 389,045 meticais (about 13,190 US dollars) on businesses that increased their prices for no good reason during the festive season.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the Minister of Industry and Trade, Armando Inroga, said that state inspectors seized goods that were being sold at speculative prices, and then sold them to consumers at the correct market price. The sum of 59,730 meticais thus obtained reverted in favour of the state.
Inroga said that most of the offenders were operating in the informal sector. But he thought there were only a few of them. "During this festive season there were isolated cases of speculation in goods such as beer, live chickens, eggs and potatoes", he said. "In these cases the goods were confiscated and sold at market prices".
Despite some "small foci" of hoarding, Inroga thought that the festive season had been characterized by large scale supplies of essential goods, sold at relatively stable prices – even in the cases of foodstuffs such as tomatoes, onions, potatoes and eggs, which had been problematic in previous years.
Inroga said this was the result of planned production and import programmes, as well as improvements in the ports and timely inspection of goods, which avoided cargo being held up in the ports for long periods.
He added that the presence of government inspection and monitoring brigades in all the provinces had dissuaded traders from attempts to hoard goods or charge speculative prices. "The massive presence of inspection brigades from the National Inspectorate of Economic Activities, and permanent coordination with local administrative bodies made it possible for cases of speculation to be denounced and the necessary measures to be taken speedily", Inroga said.
Brigades were installed at the factories producing beer and soft drinks which accompanied the movement of trucks carrying drinks to the wholesale distribution centres, in a largely successful effort to avoid speculation.
The inspection brigades also cracked down on attempts to sell goods that were past their expiry date. Expired goods valued at 180,000 meticais were destroyed.
In some cases, fresh produce, particularly tomatoes, was in such plentiful supply that traders in the wholesale markets were forced to sell the produce at a loss, or watch it rot unsold. Thus in the Zimpeto wholesale market, on the outskirts of Maputo, a crate of tomatoes purchased from the producers in the district of Matutuine for between 110 and 130 meticais, was sold for as little as 40 or even 20 meticais.