Price Hike Madness: Ministry To Engage Retailers

The Honourable Minister of Industry and Commerce Dr Sithembiso Nyoni has reacted to recent price hikes madness on basic commodities and made it known that his ministry will soon create a special office that will look into the issues.

Dr Nyoni was speaking against the backdrop of massive price hikes which have been witnessed in the country ahead of the festive season.

The high increase in goods and services during this festive season has dampened the mood of the majority leaving them struggling to make ends meet.

She however made it clear that the government would not impose price controls, but engage businesses over the price madness.

“Government does not tame prices,” Dr Nyoni said.

She added, “What we do is we discuss with the business and try to understand why they are hiking prices. So, I will set up an office to look into that and then we will take the necessary dialogue steps to look into that.”

According to a survey conducted, retailers have hiked prices of basic commodities such as mealie-meal, sugar, cooking oil and rice among others, even in United States dollars.

In some retail shops, a 2-litre bottle of cooking oil, which was selling at US$3, now costs US$4,50, while the price of a 2kg pack of rice rose to US$ toUS$3,50 from US$2.

The price of a 2-litre bottle of Mazoe Crush rose to US$4,50 from $3, while a bar of washing soap now costs US$1,50 from US$1.

Some schools have also announced intentions to increase fees by up to 100% beginning of next year.

Retailers, however, warned of further price hikes.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Denford Mutashu blamed the price hikes on proposals to increase taxes by Finance Minister Mhtuli Ncube in the 2024 budget.

Mutashu said businesses were passing the costs to consumers to hedge against losses as well as to manage operational costs.

“There is a huge expectation of more price hikes before year-end and this has been triggered by the barrage of taxes on basic commodities contained in the 2024 budget,” he said.

“The proposal to increase VAT [value-added tax] on basic commodities came as a shock to the market because since 1980, we have not had a hike on VAT on basic commodities.

“The 1% wealth tax proposal has also resulted in property owners raising their rental fees. So, for business owners who rent property, they will increase prices of the services and commodities.”

Zimbabwe Congress Public Sector Trade Unions secretary-general  David Dzatsunga said the workers were being fleeced by greedy businesses.

“While we appreciate that the government awarded bonuses to its workers, the price hikes are an issue of concern,” Dzatsunga said.

“The earnings will be wiped out because already, the salaries are below what we are asking for from the government.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa re-introduced the local currency in 2019 after a decade of relative stability during dollarization.


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