‘We’re on top of price sit­u­a­tion’

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - OPINION & ANALYSIS - Dr Mike Bimha

CHAL­LENGES that emerged on Septem­ber 22⁄23, 2017 are now com­ing to an end. We have been mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion in terms of avail­abil­ity of prod­ucts and price hikes, and have es­tab­lished that most prod­ucts are back on shop shelves.

There are no short­ages or fac­to­ries com­plain­ing about fail­ing to pro­duce.

Yes, there was a time when fac­to­ries were get­ting in­suf­fi­cient for­eign cur­rency, but that was not unique as for­eign cur­rency avail­abil­ity has al­ways pre­sented chal­lenges.

The Re­serve Bank of Zim­babwe has now pro­vided enough for­eign cur­rency to oil ex­pressers to im­port the raw ma­te­rial (crude oil) re­quired to go through the fes­tive sea­son.

How­ever, we con­tinue to mon­i­tor pro­duc­tion and sup­plies.

In the event of de­mand-supply gaps, we will al­low im­por­ta­tion of that prod­uct so as to avoid short­ages.

We will do the same for any other man­u­fac­tur­ers who strug­gle to meet de­mand.

We are, nev­er­the­less, happy that the RBZ has made ar­range­ments for oil ex­pressers to im­port crude oil to con­vert into cook­ing oil.

The prob­lem area, re­ally, has been with cook­ing oil; but the prices have been go­ing down.

Other prod­uct prices have not re­ceded to pre-Septem­ber 22 lev­els, and mea­sures are now in place to deal with this. For in­stance, we are meet­ing pro­duc­ers, whole­salers and re­tail­ers reg­u­larly to com­pare notes, ze­ro­ing in on who ex­actly is be­hind the ar­bi­trary price hikes.

Th­ese in­ter­faces have shown us that it is the re­tailer who at times hikes prices and not the pro­ducer.

So, we are com­ing to­gether to pin­point ac­tual prob­lem ar­eas and flag them out.

In ad­di­tion, we have en­gaged the Con­sumer Coun­cil of Zim­babwe to mon­i­tor prices and dis­sem­i­nate in­for­ma­tion on rec­om­mended re­tail prices for all prod­ucts.

We also want th­ese rec­om­mended prices pub­lished reg­u­larly so that con­sumers be­come aware of ex­act prod­uct prices as pub­lished.

We are not bring­ing Home Af­fairs (for en­force­ment) into the mat­ter, but en­gag­ing the par­ties in­volved; and prices have been go­ing down since that en­gage­ment started.

Po­lice are not re­quired in that re­gard. I don’t think it will get to that as en­gage­ment is a step in the right direc­tion.

The re­port of the Tech­ni­cal Com­mit­tee (on Prices) gen­er­ally calls for con­tin­u­ous en­gage­ment, and en­sur­ing con­sis­tent supply of goods.

The supply side has al­ways been cov­ered, but peo­ple re­acted to un­sub­stan­ti­ated so­cial me­dia claims.

And we have to deal with so­cial me­dia to en­sure peo­ple know the truth.

One can­not say ev­ery­thing on so­cial me­dia is false; we can, in fact, har­ness it to tell the true story.

The Cy­ber Se­cu­rity Min­istry will ac­tu­ally help us give con­sumers cor­rect in­for­ma­tion so that they know ex­actly what is tak­ing place in terms of supply and prices.

We be­lieve if we com­mu­ni­cate the right kind of in­for­ma­tion ad­e­quately, we won’t en­counter the same prob­lems.

Af­ter go­ing through the re­port, the Min­istry (of In­dus­try and Com­merce) made rec­om­men­da­tions, some of which we are still scru­ti­n­is­ing and im­ple­ment­ing.

This com­ing week, I will de­liver a Min­is­te­rial State­ment on the mat­ter be­fore Par­lia­ment as Cab­i­net has al­ready ap­proved all rec­om­men­da­tions.

We are work­ing to make sure all ba­sic com­modi­ties are placed on the forex pri­or­ity list so that we will never have short­ages.

It’s one of the rec­om­men­da­tions of the re­port. Dr Mike Bimha is the Min­is­ter of In­dus­try and Com­merce, and Chair­man of the Spe­cial Cab­i­net Com­mit­tee on Prices

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.