Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls
GOVERNMENT should urgently craft a policy to address rampant price hikes and the parallel money market to save the economy from a downturn.
This came out during a panel discussion at the recent Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe (ICAZ) centenary conference attended by more than 400 members of the profession here.
Consumer Council of Zimbabwe chief executive, Mrs Rosemary Siyachitema, said the current pricing situation signifies “madness”. She called for crafting of a Consumer Protection Act to end speculation and protect citizens.
“From a consumer perspective, the pricing in the country signifies madness. This has been the trend in the past where goods are not on the shelves and abundant on the streets at higher prices. The price hikes are a sign of madness and there is madness in Zimbabwe in terms of wanting to profiteer 100 percent,” she said.
“We need a Consumer Protection Act where consumers will be at a level playing field to challenge the madness. It has happened in other countries and the new Parliament after this election should put in place the Act to deal with these practical challenges.”
Mrs Siyachitema said the current situation where the economy is driven by the informal sector, has left consumers confused and not understanding what’s happening around them. She discredited the plastic money payment system saying Government forced a three-tier pricing model and use of card system in an environment where cards are not usable and banks not giving cash.
Mrs Siyachitema said as a result banks have become “useless” institutions.
Distribution Group Africa financial director Mr Sevious Mushosho concurred and challenged Government to urgently come up with measures to address the situation.
“It’s wrong to say the country is manufacturing because people are repackaging and pricing as if they are manufacturing. The price hikes are not just price hikes but madness and Government should bring fundamental solutions to this,” he said.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president Mr Sifelani Jabangwe said the parallel market was fuelled by challenges such as poor fiscal regime. He said there is a need for a clear vision by the new Government.
“We are not generating enough foreign currency and this has fuelled the black market. I think we need to address complexities in our economy such as the fiscal regime where Government is spending more than it is generating. We need a plan that delivers the 2030 vision otherwise we may not achieve this,” he said.
Mr Denford Mutashu, the president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers said the economy is growing at a rate faster than the authority is able to supply lubricants such as fuel and foreign currency hence the speculation. There is a need for a policy that will guide the nation and make cash circulate in the formal sector, he said.
Mr Mutashu castigated rampant smuggling, which he said is “scary and dangerous to the economy.” He said that consumption was very high hence the speculative pricing where people were taking advantage of the situation. @ncubeleon