Re­tail­ers upbeat on 2018:

The Manica Post - - Front Page - Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Se­nior Reporter

RE­TAIL­ERS say they are work­ing on ad­dress­ing the root cause of the cur­rent wave of price in­creases that has seen some ba­sic com­modi­ties go up by more than 50 per­cent.

Prices have been go­ing up since the mid­dle of the year but re­tail­ers last week ef­fected more in­creases lead­ing to an out­cry by con­sumers. Most busi­nesses blamed the price ad­just­ments on the short­age of for­eign cur­rency in the econ­omy.

In an in­ter­view with The Man­ica Post, Con­fed­er­a­tion of Zim­babwe Re­tail­ers (CZR) pres­i­dent Mr Den­ford Mu­tashu said there was need to dig deeper to find out who is caus­ing some of the wan­ton price in­creases.

“The emer­gence of price in­creases in the mid­dle of the year was wor­ry­ing and there was a lot of blame shift­ing by man­u­fac­tur­ers, re­tail­ers and whole­salers with each blam­ing the other for the re­sul­tant in­crease in the re­tail price of goods. As re­tail in­dus­try, we will do our best to boost con­fi­dence of the con­sumers and ad­dress the mal­prac­tice of in­creas­ing prices wan­tonly,” he said.

“Busi­nesses must re­mem­ber that it is not good to short­change the cus­tomer. Most ba­sics went up but this did not cor­re­spond with salaries which re­mained stag­nant. We will work on iden­ti­fy­ing the gap. We want to get to the bot­tom of the prob­lem to see who is prof­i­teer­ing be­tween the man­u­fac­turer, the whole­saler and the re­tailer and then try to ad­dress it.”

He said price con­trol would not ad­dress the prob­lem, but might ac­tu­ally cause more in­creases and urged Gov­ern­ment to come up with pol­icy mea­sures that will mon­i­tor prices in­stead.

“If a prod­uct is con­trolled, it gives rise to a par­al­lel mar­ket. So we need to ad­dress this from the sup­ply side. If we have enough for­eign cur­rency, we can then see a nat­u­ral read­just­ment of prices,” he said.

Mr Mu­tashu said busi­nesses should not con­tinue bur­den­ing con­sumers in 2018 but un­der­stand that the eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion has put a strain on every­one’s pocket.

CZR was also con­duct­ing out­reach pro­grammes to en­cour­age all re­tail­ers to bank their money to en­sure that the cash they get cir­cu­lates in the econ­omy.

“As a sec­tor, we handle a lot of cash and we know that some re­tail­ers and in­di­vid­u­als have not been bank­ing their cash. We need to ad­dress this is­sue and en­cour­age every­one to bank their cash. We will con­tinue with out­reach pro­grammes next year for all re­tail­ers and con­sumers to bank money,” he said.

On lo­cal prod­ucts that have be­come too ex­pen­sive on the shelves, Mr Mu­tashu said en­hanced com­pe­ti­tion would nat­u­rally bring down prices.

“Our lo­cal goods have not been far­ing well on the mar­ket and Gov­ern­ment must work on boost­ing lo­cal pro­duc­tion so that re­tail­ers can be able to sell lo­cal prod­ucts at com­pet­i­tive mar­kets on the shelves. Take cook­ing oil, for in­stance, Gov­ern­ment should ca­pac­i­tate soy­abean farm­ers so that they can ad­e­quately sup­ply oil pro­ces­sors who will then pro­duce cook­ing oil at com­pet­i­tive prices and the prod­uct will be avail­able in the mar­ket at cheaper prices,” said Mr Mu­tashu.

There were short­ages of cook­ing oil in Oc­to­ber, which re­sulted in most re­tail­ers lim­it­ing the prod­uct to one per cus­tomer.

The Gov­ern­ment started talks on get­ting cook­ing oil pro­duc­ers to pro­cure raw ma­te­ri­als lo­cally which would be de­pen­dent on in­creas­ing soy­abean yields, as it pro­vides the oil needed to pro­duce cook­ing oil.

Zim­babwe al­ready pro­duces an av­er­age of 30 000 tonnes of soy­abeans an­nu­ally, which is mainly used by cook­ing oil com­pa­nies, against an an­nual de­mand of about 300 000 tonnes.

Mr Mu­tashu

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