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Retailers lament high prices

BY FARAI MATIASHE

RETAILERS say prices of basic commodities are still beyond the reach of ordinary people despite a marginal reduction that followed the re-introduction of the local currency.

On June 24, the government scrapped the multiple currency regime following concerns over rising inflation and demands by civil servants to be paid in foreign
currency.

The fiscal reforms saw the foreign currency rates on the parallel market tumbling and some leading retailers started reducing prices of basic commodities.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Denford Mutashu, however, said prices of basic commodities were still too high.

“Prices of goods and services are slowly coming down though at varying margins from one sector player to the other,” he said.

“This is positive and in line with the current government monetary policy measures that have seen the foreign currency rate tumble since de-dollarisation.

“The general pricing remains high and beyond the reach of many whose incomes have either stagnated or eroded over time.”

Mutashu urged the government to tackle the parallel market and unethical business practices, which he said threatened economic revival.

“There is need to get rid of illicit activities in the sector where people are opening shops as a cover for intensive foreign currency parallel market
dealings,” he said.

“Most spare parts shops along Kaguvi Street and Harare Street in the capital and some traders at the so-called tuck shops in downtown Harare are haemorrhaging
the economy of taxes, shunning banks and general disregard of labour practices.”

Mutashu said fuel shortages were also to blame for high prices. Zimbabwe has been experiencing serious fuel shortages since last year and the crisis seemed to
worsen in recent weeks.

“For the price stabilisation to be sustained, we need to address key issues like making the interbank market work in earnest, disciplined pricing models,
improving the power and fuel supply in the economy and restoration of confidence,” Matashu said.

Zimbabwe Cross-Border Traders’ Association leader Killer Zivhu, who is also a Zanu PF legislator, said the marginal drop in prices might be shortlived because
the country relied on imports.

“The prices are falling and this can only be for a short period,” he said.

“There is no production in the country to sustain low prices. Production is the key.

“As long as we are importing most goods, low prices cannot be maintained.”

In 2009, Zimbabwe abandoned its own currency to adopt a basket of foreign currencies, including the United States dollar and the South African rand, due to
hyperinflation.

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