Con­sumer Coun­cil re­port on hikes

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - OPINION & ANALYSIS - Rose­mary Siy­a­chitema

The root cause is forex short­age. We also must be proac­tive to the cy­cle of our forex in­flows through­out the year.

Our in­flows fluc­tu­ate from high to low, with heavy in­flu­ence from the agro sec­tor. We need to ad­dress this by find­ing a tool to man­age the low trough in the forex supply cy­cle ev­ery year (Au­gust to March), for in­stance, the Nostro Sta­bil­i­sa­tion Fund or, prefer­ably, in­creas­ing na­tional ex­ports. (Im­me­di­ately to medium-term)

There is need to pro­mote greater growth of ex­ports ag­gres­sively in all sec­tors. (Medium to long-term).

There is need to scrutinise and bet­ter al­lo­cate avail­able forex in line with pri­or­ity lists. Rec­on­cile be­tween banks and the RBZ. (Im­me­di­ate)

As CZI, we are also look­ing to go on a cam­paign to show­case the pos­i­tive ef­fects of the var­i­ous Statu­tory In­stru­ments which are now un­der SI 122.

The ac­tions above show that we could kill the black mar­ket within a year and as­sure the na­tion of ad­e­quate supply.

How­ever, we must also con­sider that the econ­omy is grow­ing; the re­quire­ments for forex will keep grow­ing as well.

With all th­ese chal­lenges we are go­ing through, the econ­omy is in a very strong state com­pared to most prior pe­ri­ods.

All chal­lenges can be man­aged as long as we take well-re­searched in­ter­ven­tions. With 2017 only two months from the end, we be­lieve we could even assess how the econ­omy has per­formed this year, look­ing at in­di­ca­tors such as:

1. Gross forex in­flows for the coun­try have grown by 48 per­cent. We have, so far, had a nar­row­ing of the trade deficit by 26 per­cent;

2. Var­i­ous achieve­ments in the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor, in­clud­ing new lo­cal and for­eign in­vest­ments;

3. Achieve­ments in tourism such as com­ple­tion of Vic­to­ria Falls In­ter­na­tional Air­port;

4. Com­ple­tion of the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam, achieve­ments in agri­cul­ture such as the bumper maize har­vest; and 5. Progress in the en­ergy sec­tor. The re­sult of the as­sess­ment should be a pos­i­tive mark, in­di­cat­ing that all stake­hold­ers have done well in 2017. Mr Sife­lani Ja­bangwe is the pres­i­dent of the Con­fed­er­a­tion of Zim­babwe In­dus­tries. He was speak­ing to The Sun­day Mail’s Liv­ing­stone Marufu in Harare last week

ON SEPTEM­BER 23, 2017, the Con­sumer Coun­cil of Zim­babwe was alerted to dras­tic price hikes. Con­cerned, we sur­veyed shops in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Gweru and Masvingo. Cook­ing oil was the main prod­uct of dis­cus­sion.

A week ear­lier, we had done a sur­vey and es­tab­lished that a 2-litre bot­tle of cook­ing oil cost around US$3,50. It was pegged at as much as US$5,10 af­ter Septem­ber 23.

Ev­ery­thing had gone up and con­sumers pan­icked, re­mem­ber­ing 2008.

Why this desta­bil­i­sa­tion oc­curred, we don’t know.

We can only base it on a so­cial me­dia mes­sage.

Even peo­ple sell­ing out­side shops changed prices. They were not ac­cept­ing swipe. If you paid via mo­bile bank­ing or Real Time Gross Set­tle­ment, there was a pre­mium on top.

Con­sumers grew anx­ious and every­body else took ad­van­tage of the sit­u­a­tion.

This is what we found out in our sur­veys: 25 Septem­ber Cook­ing oil: It was not avail­able in most shops vis­ited by CCZ. Where it was avail­able, prices had risen from US$3,50 to US$5,40.

Harare: There was two-tier pric­ing, US dol­lar and bond note. Some shops did not dis­play prices. They took them off and one would only know of the price at the till. There were re­stric­tions of one to four bot­tles per per­son.

Chicken cuts: Th­ese were largely un­avail­able. Where avail­able, a price of US$8,60 was charged.

Eggs: Th­ese were largely un­avail­able most prob­a­bly be­cause of bird flu. Where avail­able, prices had gone up from US$4 to US$7 per tray.

Flour: (The price) in­creased from US$1,95 to US$2,20.

Cere­vita: Price in­creased from US$2,89 to US$3,69, but this might be due to for­ti­fi­ca­tion which was re­cently in­tro­duced to the prod­uct.

Fresh milk, lo­tion, dish washer, beef, pork, de­ter­gents, toma­toes, onions and baked beans also in­creased prices. Prices for other prod­ucts re­mained rel­a­tively sta­ble.

It was also ob­served that whole­salers were not ac­cept­ing RTGS pay­ments, mo­bile and dig­i­tal money.

The quest for cash was then trans­ferred to the cus­tomer by re­tail­ers.

As the week pro­gressed, cook­ing oil started be­ing avail­able in 750ml at a price of US$1,15 19 October Cook­ing oil: It was now avail­able, 2-litre bot­tles were rang­ing from US$2,80 to US$2,85. In high-den­sity sub­urbs of Harare, it wasn’t avail­able. In low-den­sity sub­urbs, there were re­stric­tions of one bot­tle per per­son.

Streets were awash with lo­cally-pro­duced cook­ing oil be­ing sold by ven­dors at US$3 and $3.80 for the US dol­lar and Bond note, re­spec­tively. In Masvingo and Gweru, cook­ing oil was not avail­able.

Shops were now dis­play­ing prices.

Chicken cuts: Now read­ily avail­able at a price of about US$7,35, but in Bulawayo, it was US$7,59 to US$7,99. Lo­cal brands were mostly avail­able.

Eggs: Th­ese were avail­able ev­ery­where ex­cept in Masvingo. They ranged from US$4,70 to US$5,60 per crate.

Flour: It now ranged from US$1,95 to US$2,20.

Beef and pork prices in­creased again from a range of US$6,19 to US$7,75 com­pared to 11 October prices of US$5,40 to US$6,50.

Prices for fresh milk, de­ter­gents and ev­ery­thing else re­mained sta­ble. Toma­toes and onions in­creased by a small mar­gin.

Whole­salers were still not ac­cept­ing RTGS and mo­bile money.

Over­all, lo­cal prod­ucts were af­fected by the desta­bil­i­sa­tion of prices, but the mar­gin was not very high com­pared to im­ported prod­ucts, be­sides cook­ing oil.

Im­ported prod­ucts sky-rock­eted, es­pe­cially niceties like cheese.

Things like mealie-meal hardly went up maybe be­cause we had a bumper har­vest and there was no rea­son for it to go up.

Prices have gen­er­ally de­clined, but not to pre-Septem­ber 23 lev­els.

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