Thursday, 31 October 2019

10 PEOPLE CARTEL FUELS PRICE HIKES, SAYS SPEAKER


THE Speaker of the National Assembly, Advocate Jacob Mudenda, yesterday said wanton price hikes in the country are caused by a cartel of 10 people.

Giving a keynote address at the 2019 Pre-Budget Seminar which opened here yesterday, Adv Mudenda called for the immediate arrest of members of the cartel.

He said the country cannot afford to have price hikes every day. “This seminar is being held amid a myriad of challenges and uncertainties threatening to turn the budgetary process into a mere academic exercise. Chief among them is the exchange rate volatility which is feeding into the price madness that has engulfed the domestic market. This jittery and fluid market environment has eroded public trust in our national economy.

“There is a cartel of 10 people according to the Reserve Bank Governor and I want to say its (cartel) best place is either at Chikurubi or Khami Maximum prisons. We can’t afford to have price hikes every day. There must be some stability somehow and that cartel needs to be attended to without fear or favour,” said Adv Mudenda.

He said Parliament has a role to proffer solutions to economic challenges.

The Speaker said the 2020 national budget hinges on the national development agenda set by President Mnangagwa in his State of the Nation Address and official opening of Second Session of the Ninth Parliament last month. 

Adv Mudenda said the national development agenda can only be achieved through productivity, innovation, responsiveness, persistence, deliberate planning and disciplined focus.

“It can only be achieved through judicious exploitation of natural resources and prudential optimal allocation of public resources. The Budget should therefore, persuasively influence the behaviour of all economic stakeholders to contribute towards the achievement of national objectives and goals.

“In this context, Parliament and the Executive should create seamless synergies which must promote convergence of development priorities which should ground our national budget,” he said.

He said there must be political will to address economic challenges.

“In our case, we hesitate and procrastinate in privatising our state entities yet the Transitional Stabilisation Programme demands so. We need fortitude, perseverance and political will to address the current economic glitches if we are to come back to economic life,” he said.

When MPs quizzed Central Bank Governor Dr John Mangudya why members of the cartel referred to by the Speaker have not been arrested, he said: “As for the 10 cartels I am not sure how the figures are being manufactured but I said 50 percent of domestic balance is in the hands of 50 corporates. Whether these are called cartels which I think is a wrong definition, but these are large suppliers and let’s not rush to name before we can define.” 

Two days ago Dr Mangudya said the central bank had frozen bank accounts that were being used for speculative purposes to hurt the domestic currency and drive price increases. Chronicle

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