Zimbabwe: Speculative Pricing Slammed

17 April 2019

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has expressed concern over the speculative pricing by wholesalers and retailers, which has stunned the market at a time when experts were expecting the inflation rate to start falling.

This comes as retailers and wholesalers effected a fresh round of price increases yesterday, allegedly in response to a jump in the rate of foreign currency on the parallel market.

The rate of the US dollar against RTGS dollars soared to 1:5 on the parallel market, in a development that stunned market watchers who argue that there are no fundamentals to support such a high rate given that citizens and individuals lack the domestic currency while the tobacco selling season has just opened.

On the interbank foreign currency market, the rate was 1:3,1676 yesterday.

But with many companies claiming that they can't access forex on the interbank market, several executives are reportedly flocking to the parallel market to access forex "just to keep the wheels of industry turning". Bread makers increased the price of bread from RTGS$1,70 to RTGS$3,40 while fast food outlets also increased prices by anything between RTGS$2 and RTGS$5.

Last week, RBZ deputy director for Economic Research Division Dr Nebson Mupunga said it was critical for traders to ensure fair pricing practices.

"Wholesalers and retailers must play their part in ensuring fair business and pricing practices and desist from speculative tendencies," said Dr Mupunga.

Statistics released by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) on Monday show that the year-on-year inflation rate rose to 66,80 percent in March, under the new base used to calculate the consumer price index. The new base is in tandem with international guidelines. But the central bank insists that inflation would stabilise by the end of the year if "we all work to achieve it".

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