Government has started working on a cocktail of measures to ensure stabilisation of prices of essential commodities and their availability, an official said yesterday.
Early this month, Government set up a technical committee co-chaired by the National Competiveness Committee (NCC), the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to look into prices and make recommendations on tackling the challenge.
NCC chairman Kumbirai Katsande yesterday said the technical committee’s brief is also to establish the availability of basic goods.
Mr Katsande said this while addressing delegates during at this year’s Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) conference. He said the committee will also look into foreign currency allocations in light of shortages that have seen businesses struggling to import critical raw materials and spare parts.
Foreign currency shortages have seen some companies resorting to buying foreign currency at premium, a development that is putting pressure on prices of essential commodities, particularly on the informal market.
In the last few weeks, the country experienced some supply challenges of commodities such as cement.
Prices went up by as much as 100 percent after some unscrupulous retailers took advantage of the situation.
There had been also some isolated cases of bread shortages and fuel.
Said Mr Katsande: “We are holding our first meeting on Monday, which will be chaired by the Vice President (Chiwenga) to discuss issues to do with foreign currency allocation (to companies) and what is causing the push in prices.”
He said the committee had been tasked to look into cost pressures and recommend to Government how product price stability and productivity could be achieved. “But we want to emphasise that this is not about price controls as the committee will, going forward, meet regularly to offer solutions to minimise surprises (sudden price changes or shortage of commodities),” said Mr Katsande, a former chief executive of Nestle Zimbabwe and CZI president.
The NCC was formed to critically analyse cost drivers on the competiveness of the productive sectors and make recommendation policy making.
Industry and Commerce Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu said Government would ensure that the NCC is adequately capacitated to fulfil its mandate.