Gov­ern­ment not in­tro­duc­ing price con­trols

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - BUSINESS - Busi­ness Re­porter

GOV­ERN­MENT has no in­ten­tions of ei­ther in­tro­duc­ing price con­trols or “pun­ish­ing” prof­i­teer­ing busi­nesses, In­dus­try and Com­merce Min­is­ter Man­gal­iso Ndlovu has said.

Rather, Gov­ern­ment is em­bark­ing on a price mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem along the pro­duc­tion chain, from man­u­fac­tur­ers to re­tail­ers, as part of mea­sures to flush out eco­nomic sabo­teurs.

The pro­nounce­ment come at a time when there are fears among the busi­ness com­mu­nity and in­di­vid­u­als that Gov­ern­ment is about to in­tro­duce price con­trols.

Price con­trols are un­de­sir­able as they re­sult in dis­ap­pear­ance of com­modi­ties from shop shelves and the emer­gence of the black mar­ket.

The last time price con­trols were in­tro­duced in 2007, there was a fren­zied buy­ing spree that emp­tied most shop shelves.

As a re­sult, most man­u­fac­tur­ers stopped pro­duc­ing, say­ing the price freeze was not vi­able given that prices for raw ma­te­ri­als was sky-rock­et­ing.

Lat­est fears stem from Gov­ern­ment’s an­nounce­ment early last week that it has em­barked on the price mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem as part of mea­sures to flush out eco­nomic sabo­teurs.

Brief­ing jour­nal­ists at a joint Press con­fer­ence af­ter a Cab­i­net meet­ing, In­for­ma­tion, Pub­lic­ity and Broad­cast­ing Ser­vices Min­is­ter Mon­ica Mutsvangwa said Cab­i­net had re­solved that ac­tion be taken against prof­i­teer­ing play­ers fu­elling un­jus­ti­fied price in­creases, thereby im­pos­ing hard­ship on cit­i­zens.

Dur­ing the same meet­ing, Min­is­ter Ndlovu weighed in say­ing the cul­prits risk with­drawal of the cen­tral bank’s for­eign cur­rency sup­port, among other strin­gent penal­ties.

“There is a peer mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem among sup­pli­ers and re­tail­ers and in terms of that sys­tem, we will start by cau­tion­ing the de­viants and it might end in the with­drawal of the sup­port that the RBZ is giv­ing to most of the en­ti­ties,” said Min­is­ter Ndlovu.

The min­is­ters’ an­nounce­ments was wrongly in­ter­preted by most in­dus­trial play­ers as an in­tro­duc­tion of prices con­trols. How­ever, ap­pear­ing on Zim­pa­pers Tele­vi­sion Net­work pro­gramme on Thurs­day, The Chase, Min­is­ter Ndlovu said Gov­ern­ment has no in­ten­tion of in­tro­duc­ing price con­trols.

Fol­low­ing the re­cent in­tro­duc­tion of fis­cal and mone­tary mea­sures meant to sta­bilise the econ­omy, panic buy­ing and hoard­ing has al­ready left some shops empty, prompt­ing Gov­ern­ment to in­ter­vene and calm the mar­kets.

How­ever, price con­trols are not part of Gov­ern­ment’s plans, ac­cord­ing to the re­spon­si­ble min­is­ter.

“Price con­trol are not on the ta­ble, Gov­ern­ment has not taken that po­si­tion and it will not take that po­si­tion. We have made it quite clear that it’s not com­ing,” re­it­er­ated Min­is­ter Ndlovu.

The In­dus­try and Com­merce Min­is­ter said no busi­nesses will be “pun­ished” by the au­thor­i­ties.

“Cer­tainly Gov­ern­ment will not con­sider do­ing that and I like the fact that you put it clear as a puni­tive mea­sure, we don’t be­lieve any­one has to be pun­ished for any­thing, this is a sit­u­a­tion that we all have to col­lec­tively deal. So far, in­ter­ac­tive plat­forms have worked and we be­lieve we can do more through such plat­forms,” he said.

Dur­ing the TV pro­gramme, busi­ness ex­pressed con­cern over the sug­ges­tion to mon­i­tor their op­er­a­tions.

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