MANUFACTURERS through the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) have condemned the recent spate of price increases accusing retailers of profiteering.
Addressing delegates who attended a pre-budget dialogue symposium organised by The Chronicle in Bulawayo on Tuesday, CZI Matabeleland president, Mr Joseph Gunda, said producers under his association had agreed not to increase prices despite shortages of foreign currency as they prefer engaging the apex bank for allocations towards critical raw material imports.
He said as an association they were disturbed by the recent price increases, which he felt were unjustified and bent on sheer profiteering.
“We are seeing price hikes in retail shops and we do not know what triggered them. We need to know whether the suppliers have increased prices. This is profiteering and its a disease that we have as Zimbabweans.
“We have said as CZI that we are not increasing prices but would rather pressure RBZ for allocations. This is an attitude problem that we have as Zimbabweans, we like imports and profiteering.”
Participants also expressed shock over price increases and there are fears that continued price increases could retard gains made under import management.
“Prices have been going up everyday in the past weeks and this is seriously affecting consumers. The Government has to do something to control this madness,” said one of the participants.
“There is lack of discipline and that should not be allowed to continue. There should be a reason for prices to go up not just for the sake of profiteering.”
In some shops prices of basic commodities have nearly doubled especially cooking oil. Delegates said it was shocking that even prices of products that did not require imported raw materials such as bricks have also gone up.
CZI said it will maintain close contact and dialogue with the central bank and urged companies to use the organisation when they have challenges regarding the allocation of forex for raw materials imports.
Meanwhile, retailers have said the price increases are a result of low commodity supplies from producers. Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) president, Mr Denford Mutashu said improved supplies would stabilise the prices.
“Cooking oil producers have not increased the price of cooking oil despite its shortage on the market and as CZR we do not condone the hiking of prices to increase profits.”
Mr Mutashu blamed unregistered retailers for increasing prices but hoped that measures being put by Government to ease foreign currency shortage were going to yield positive results soon.
In the meantime, Mr Mutashu suggested that Government should allow those retailers with the capacity to import cooking oil to do so until local producers are able to meet demand.