A CABINET committee has been set up to investigate the latest spate of basic commodity price increases as Government moves to ensure corrective measures are taken to protect consumers.
The intervention follows an outcry by consumers who say they are being pushed to the receiving end by a wave of unjustified price increases that pushed the cost of living up by 11% in April, according to ZimStat.
Government has also rebuked some unscrupulous traders, mainly in the informal sector, for demanding payment for goods and services exclusively in foreign currency, a practice that violates the dual currency regulations and is leading to artificial shortages of some items in shops.
Cabinet has since appointed Industry and Commerce Minister, Dr Sekai Nzenza; Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, and Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services, Dr Jenfan Muswere to lead the committee tasked with addressing the pricing distortions.
Yesterday Dr Nzenza briefed Cabinet on the pricing concerns for basic food supplies, and extensive deliberations were made, said Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa while briefing the media after the Cabinet meeting in Harare.
She said the committee will make recommendations to Cabinet on action to be taken.
“The nation is being informed that Cabinet is concerned by the spiralling prices of the 14 basic goods, especially bread, flour, cooking oil and mealie-meal.
“The Minister of Industry and Commerce is already engaging the concerned stakeholders including manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and other associations on the matter.
“Given the urgency of the matter, Cabinet has set up a Committee to quickly investigate, monitor and make appropriate recommendations to Cabinet with a view to bringing sanity to the situation.”
She said Dr Nzenza will soon issue an appropriate statement on the matter.
“Cabinet wishes to assure the nation that corrective measures will be taken in order to protect the transacting public.
Earlier, Dr Nzenza had said the Government was monitoring the pricing situation and assured consumers that corrective measures were being taken to protect consumers. She chided operators who are demanding forex only for frustrating consumers.
“It has come to our attention that some suppliers of basic commodities have been observed demanding payment exclusively in foreign currency for certain basic commodities in violation of the dual currency pricing system adopted by the Government.