The Sunday Mail
GOVERNMENT will not hesitate to take punitive measures against unscrupulous businesses with a penchant for effecting unjustified price increases on basic commodities to cause public suffering, a Cabinet Minister has warned.
Speaking to The Sunday Mail, Industry and Commerce Minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu said Government felt betrayed by some businesses driven by greed.
This comes in the wake of an upsurge in prices of basic commodities in the recent weeks.
Said Minister Ndlovu; “We have tried our best in avoiding interfering in the pricing system but we are realising that they (businesses) are not helping Government’s efforts in trying to revive this economy.
“All we do is to create an environment for them (to operate), but I believe the same is not passed onto the consumer because the consumer is the hardest hit.
“Government has done a lot, through subsidies to the business community and the expectation being that they will keep their prices within reasonable limits, but what’s happening (price hikes) doesn’t make sense.”
Minister Ndlovu said it was folly for businesses to link price increases to the exchange rate as prices should only be determined by inflation trends.
“Prices should not really be a reflection of the exchange rate. This is not a foreign exchange market we are talking about,” he said.
“We are talking about our economy and we are busy subjecting our people to abuse on this basis… We have a mentality of pricing our products on what we believe will be the rate when one is importing.
“I asked (business) people why they were increasing prices, they told me about black market rates while people are selling 100 percent local products, so I don’t know if at all they are affected.”
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) president Mr Denford Mutashu confirmed the significant rise of basic commodities and household appliances prices.
He, however, said part of the increase in prices was necessitated by manufacturers who also increased the prices of their products.
“Manufacturers increased the prices of their goods for example sugar went up by their own admission by 120 percent over a short period of time,” said Mr Mutashu.
“There is a feeling among us, the players involved in the consensus building, that they were not involved or that they were not consulted before the price shot up and yet sugar is a basic product used by domestic households while at the same time as a raw material by industry, it has ripple effects on downstream prices…,” said Mr Mutashu.