The Sunday Mail
Government has no intentions of either introducing price controls or “punishing” profiteering businesses, Industry and Commerce Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu has said.
Rather, Government is embarking on a price monitoring system along the production chain, from manufacturers to retailers, as part of measures to flush out economic saboteurs.
The pronouncement come at a time when there are fears among the business community and individuals that Government is about to introduce price controls.
Price controls are undesirable as they result in disappearance of commodities from shop shelves and the emergence of the black market.
The last time price controls were introduced in 2007, there was a frenzied buying spree that emptied most shop shelves.
As a result, most manufacturers stopped producing, saying the price freeze was not viable given that prices for raw materials was sky-rocketing.
Latest fears stem from Government’s announcement early last week that it has embarked on the price monitoring system as part of measures to flush out economic saboteurs.
Briefing journalists at a joint Press conference after a Cabinet meeting, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said Cabinet had resolved that action be taken against profiteering players fuelling unjustified price increases, thereby imposing hardship on citizens.
During the same meeting, Minister Ndlovu weighed in saying the culprits risk withdrawal of the central bank’s foreign currency support, among other stringent penalties.
“There is a peer monitoring system among suppliers and retailers and in terms of that system, we will start by cautioning the deviants and it might end in the withdrawal of the support that the RBZ is giving to most of the entities,” said Minister Ndlovu.
The ministers’ announcements was wrongly interpreted by most industrial players as an introduction of prices controls. However, appearing on Zimpapers Television Network programme on Thursday, The Chase, Minister Ndlovu said Government has no intention of introducing price controls.
Following the recent introduction of fiscal and monetary measures meant to stabilise the economy, panic buying and hoarding has already left some shops empty, prompting Government to intervene and calm the markets.
However, price controls are not part of Government’s plans, according to the responsible minister.
“Price control are not on the table, Government has not taken that position and it will not take that position. We have made it quite clear that it’s not coming,” reiterated Minister Ndlovu.
The Industry and Commerce Minister said no businesses will be “punished” by the authorities.
“Certainly Government will not consider doing that and I like the fact that you put it clear as a punitive measure, we don’t believe anyone has to be punished for anything, this is a situation that we all have to collectively deal. So far, interactive platforms have worked and we believe we can do more through such platforms,” he said.
During the TV programme, business expressed concern over the suggestion to monitor their operations.