US$ prices inflation must end


WE live in a surreal world, a realm where the greedy devise ways to suppress and milk the downtrodden.

On Monday, during the Daily News-sponsored virtual conference on the Mid-Term Fiscal Policy tabled in Parliament last week by Finance and Economic Development minister Mthuli Ncube, permanent secretary George Guvamatanga bemoaned the ever increasing prices of goods and services in United States dollars.

Guvamatanga said despite retailers accessing cheap foreign currency from the recently introduced hard currency auction floor, they were using parallel market rates to price their goods and services.

“After four auctions, we expect the retail sector to respond by applying the auction rate in their pricing mechanism. We are now concerned with players who are coming to the auction system, but continue to use other exchange rates in their pricing,” Guvamatanga said.

“The other concern we want to raise with the retail sector is that we continue to see other products rise in US$. We don’t see any justification for that at a time when the auction system is actually allocating close to 90 percent of the required foreign exchange as (RBZ exchange control director Farai) Masendu highlighted, we have put in a window for those who don’t qualify to participate in the auction system to also access the foreign currency.

‘‘We expect (Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers Association Denford) Mutashu to go back to his constituency and at least advise them that we are now looking at measures that for those players who are coming to auction and are double charging, they will also be blacklisted.

“If you are coming to the auction, use the auction rate for your pricing otherwise you will be blacklisted and you will not be able to participate in the auction… I repeat, the current increase in US$ that we are observing. We are in this together, let’s make sure that this transition is supported by RBZ, government and by industry.”

What Guvamatanga exposed smacks of criminality and action must be taken to stop unscrupulous retailers from profiteering at the expense of the long-suffering Zimbabweans.

The government must come up with strict measures and stiff penalties to stop the greedy businesspeople. The US$ price inflation should never be allowed in the country where the majority of workers are paid in local currency, which has been battered on the parallel market.

The government must ensure that only the official exchange rate is applicable in pricing of goods and services, anything besides that should be illegal and heavily punishable.

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