18 April 2019

Zimbabwe: Don't Force Us to Control Prices - ED

Photo: The Herald
Thousands of Zimbabweans have made way into National Sports Stadium for the country’s 39th Independence Celebrations.

President Mnangagwa says his administration does not believe in price controls and urged businesses to have a human face by desisting from increasing prices without justification.

The Head of State and Government said price hikes should be regulated by market forces, not the spirit of profiteering.

He made the remarks in an interview with the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) ahead of today's Independence Day celebrations.

The interviewed was aired last night.

"With regard to the issue of prices, I made an appeal a few days ago to our compatriots in industry and commerce that prices are coming up but there is no justification in many areas why they are coming up," he said.

"It's just a question of perception, fear of the unknown that we want to cushion ourselves today for possible challenges tomorrow. We don't think that is the way we should operate. Last time we had the same phenomenon of prices just being increased and I asked captains of industry to come and meet me here at State House. When we met, the majority said we are reducing by half whatever has happened before we can talk about it and the prices went down. That is how we must go."

Businesses have been wantonly increasing prices and the recent spate saw the prices of bread and maize-meal being increased by over 50 percent.

Government has since appealed to millers to reconsider their position and allow for consultations.

President Mnangagwa said Government would not be forced to introduce price controls.

"We do not want to go to a situation where Government is forced to regulate prices.

"I am against the regulation of prices. I would want prices to be regulated by market forces. However, our compatriots in business should have a human face when they are making their profits. It's not going to be business for them to make super profits the same day they begin their businesses. I think it is necessary that they have a human face in dealing with the public and communities so that when they make their money they also realise that they are serving the community to which they belong."

Turning to the creation of jobs, the President said Government was on track and the One-Stop Shop Investment Centre had approved 59 projects that were set to create over 780 000 jobs over the next two years if implemented.

"For jobs to come, the first thing is to declare Zimbabwe open for business and secondly you engage in order to attract investment into the country," he said.

"Yes domestic investment is also critical but our people are so constrained as a result of the past. Their capability and financial muscle to expand and create jobs is constrained as a result of the sanctions which were imposed on us. I am happy that there has been a reasonable, positive response worldwide in the areas of mining, agriculture, manufacturing and tourism.

"Currently, we are seeing a positive response in the area of ICT as investments are coming into the country. We have created a One-Stop Investment Services Centre which we are going to launch soon. Under that we have approved up to 59 projects and all are at different levels of implementation. If all these projects are implemented in the course of the next two years, I believe that in terms of job creation we will able to create in the region of 780 000 jobs. It is critical that people get employed."

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