Friday, 24 April 2020

PRICES TO BE CUT FROM MONDAY, SAY RETAILERS


RETAILERS have said consumers should start seeing prices of basic commodities dropping with effect from Monday as they implement Government and the private sector’s social contract on a price moratorium.

Government on Wednesday announced a moratorium on prices of basic commodities that were spiralling out of control without justification.

Vice-President Kembo Mohadi said the private sector had agreed to slash prices to March 25 levels with immediate effect.

A snap survey by the Chronicle observed that prices of basic commodities were still high and in some cases some products such cooking oil and sugar were in short supply. 

At Greens Supermarket, the retail shop was selling sugar for $67, limiting customers to only two packets per customer, but even then, it was quickly finished.

The price freeze was implemented following engagement by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and various players in the value chain.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers Association (CZRA) president Mr Denford Mutashu said the retail sector will start reducing prices in the coming week.

“We should begin to see comprehensive changes from next week. Remember this is a product of dialogue and engagement so we are in the final stages. We are having meetings and these meeting are very crucial to map the implementation strategy. But so far, the same spirit of negotiations which founded the moratorium continues. We continue to carry the same spirit under the tripartite arrangement. The tripartite in the sense that we have Government, manufacturers and retailers and consumers,” said Mr Mutashu. 

“So, the spirit is still vibrant and ongoing discussions will certainly ensure the operationalisation and implementation map could be out by next week. So, the price freeze in terms of price increases is being achieved and we are working on the reduction aspect of the whole discussion. That is the package that we all want to see, that is what consumers also want to see.

So far, we are happy with what is happening to ensure that at the end of the day the consumer benefits. We should start to see significant downward movement of prices of basic commodities in the retail sector starting on Monday next week.”

He said consumers also have a role in the smooth implementation of the price moratorium.

Mr Mutashu said consumers should desist from hoarding of basic commodities as it puts retailers under unnecessary pressure to continuously restock.

“It also strains the retailers stocking capacity as well as the manufacturers so we really urge consumers to remain very calm. When a store receives products, they should really spread across the community and we do not wish to have a scenario where one consumer buys more than enough for their house,” said Mr Mutashu,

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) national vice president Mr Joseph Gunda said there was no justification for retailers to continue increasing prices because manufactures last increased prices way before the lockdown on March 30. 

He said the retail sector should act responsibly and shun milking consumers through profiteering.

“Retailers cannot point a finger at manufacturing when manufacturing had put the goods on the table before lockdown.

“When lockdown was initially announced most manufacturers stopped operations, so products were available but who increased the price? How could we increase the price when we were not manufacturing?” he asked.

In an interview yesterday, Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube said it was important for Government and the private sector to reach a consensus on prices and tame inflation.

“Because clearly as part of supporting livelihood, we want prices that are stable.

“We don’t want inflation to run away so we are really looking towards business to support us to work together to make sure that prices remain under control as we go through this difficult time. It’s not price control, its moral suasion; it’s a gentlemen’s agreement,” said Minister Ncube.

He said the new arrangement will not result in shortages of basic commodities.

In coming up with the new measures the Ministry of Industry and Commerce held a multi-sectoral meeting with various key stakeholders which included GMAZ, Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, CZR, National Bakers Association of Zimbabwe, Oil Expressors, Association of Zimbabwe, National Foods and Zimbabwe Sugar Sales among others and agreed to a price moratorium and that shops should revert to March 25 charges. Chronicle

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