Prices hikes unjustified: Minister
Walter Nyamukondiwa in Norton
GOVERNMENT is coming up with appropriate interventions to address the recent wave of price increases which it says are largely unjustified.
This comes amid indications that the country’s industry is on a recovery trajectory characterised by increased capacity utilisation and production.
Speaking during a tour of businesses in Norton, Industry and Commerce Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu said the price hikes were speculative and unjustified.
“I have not received a brief on price increases and the magnitude but I know it is a culture that has been developing in the last few weeks, people just increase prices,” said Minister Ndlovu.
“Largely, it is not justified but it is something that I will need proper briefing on before I can comprehensively comment on it. I have not heard of the increases as from the announcement of the Monetary and Fiscal policy pronouncements.”
He said the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) to be launched soon would address industry concerns and help improve its competitiveness for the regional and global export market.
Minister Ndlovu said policy interventions such as Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 and its successor Statutory Instrument 122 breathed life into industry.
“What we have seen here in Norton has left me with no doubt that indeed 2030, a middle class economy is possible. From what I have seen here companies have sacrificed through the hard times and indeed they have picked up production and capacity utilisation is increasing,” he said.
“Surely anyone who doubts that a middle class economy by 2030 is possible, think again. We need to generate more forex therefore we cannot overemphasise the importance of export-led growth. As we are improving capacity utilisation, I wish to encourage our companies to explore the export market.”
Minister Ndlovu said Government through the TSP wants to promote local production and Brand Zimbabwe. He said a study has been initiated to establish the impact of interventions such as SI64 and 122 with preliminary indications that they led to local industry increasing capacity.
“We have SI122 now, it replaced SI64 and as a Ministry we are conducting a comprehensive study to assess and analyse the impact of these interventions we have made,” said Minister Ndlovu.
“Indications so far are that local industries have increased capacity remarkably. Just here at Dandy they have managed to increase their production three-fold. We cannot operate in isolation, we have to be realistic about that. We have to expect that there will be products from outside. So we need to focus on the competitiveness of our products.”
He said Government would continue to protect local companies but within reasonable limits with emphasis being on how to improve their competitiveness for the regional and global market.
The Minister toured Best Fruit Processors, Dandy Zimbabwe, engineering firm Hastt Zimbabwe, Wilson Furnitures and Central African Batteries, manufacturers of Lucas Batteries.
The tour was organised by Norton legislator Temba Mliswa.
“We all know Norton as an industrial hub and that is no longer the case. Whilst there are companies that are struggling, others are doing well and increasing production. Dandy is one of the beneficiaries of SI64 because chewing gum was now being imported when it is produced locally,” he said.
Minister Ndlovu hailed Honourable Mliswa for organising the Norton Stakeholders Business Tour saying such initiatives should be replicated in other areas to operationalise devolution.
Mashonaland West Minister of State Mary Mliswa said industrial hubs in the province including Norton and Kadoma should be urgently resuscitated.
The tour was also attended by Industry and Commerce deputy Minister Raj Modi, Special Economic Zones chairman Dr Gideon Gono, Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Sifelani Jabangwe, the Norton Development Association and industrial players among others.