Zimbabwe: Govt to Meet Business Over Prices

Harare (file photo).
19 November 2018

Government is today expected to meet manufacturers and retailers in a bid to address price hikes, a Cabinet minister confirmed yesterday. The country witnessed astronomical increases of basic commodity prices which have been fuelled by parallel black market rates and worsened by panic buying during the past few weeks.

In an interview following his tour of Samic, a motorcycle assembling company in Bulawayo yesterday, Industry and Commerce Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu said his ministry will today bring under one roof players who have a role in influencing prices in Harare.

He said Government observed the need for stakeholders engagement, saying when prices of maize seed shot up, it took a meeting between interested players and President Mnangagwa for prices to be reduced by nearly 50 percent.

"The issue of price hikes is temporary and it's being addressed," said Minister Ndlovu.

"And for any investor, what is more critical is how Government responds to such hikes and our response has been engagement. We should be able to work things out.

"Tomorrow we are having a critical engagement session with manufacturers and retailers to try and identify critical cost push factors."

Minister Ndlovu said engaging critical stakeholders was key to addressing issues to do with speculative pricing.

Prices of basic commodities have been increasing in the past month or so, with 2kg of rice selling for $7 up from $3, sugar increasing from $2,18 to $3,90 and cooking oil going up from $4 to $6.

The shortage of products on the market saw Government suspending SI122 of 2017 to allow individuals and companies to import some of the basic commodities in short supply.

Some of the local manufacturers are now crying foul, saying the lifting of the ban on imports will push them out of business.

Minister Ndlovu said companies should provide evidence that lifting of the ban on imports affected them negatively.

"We have to separate street talk from real issues," he said.

"I need somebody to come to me and tell me how much of the products they are producing are being substituted by imports.

"Remember, when we amended the Statutory Instrument the situation was critical, but not because there was real increase in demand, but it was because of panic buying and hoarding of products for speculative purposes."

Minister Ndlovu said from his observations, there were not so many products coming through the country's borders for anyone to claim that imports were affecting local businesses.

"Remember, we have to consider the interest of the consumer," he said.

"What we saw happening was a threat to peace in the country. It is really too early for anyone to claim that there is a negative impact on industry following the lifting of the ban on imports."

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