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Government acts tough on wanton price hikes

Story by Yolanda Moyo

Government has warned unscrupulous businesspeople who seem to take delight in the suffering of ordinary citizens by causing economic instability.

For the past two weeks, Zimbabweans have witnessed price hikes despite government calls for the business community to adhere to best economic practices.

This Saturday, ZBC News visited a food outlet in Bulawayo which has for the past days been rejecting bank cards.

As part of efforts to understand the scrupulous business operations at the food outlet, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube engaged the operations manager who identified herself as Musa, who confirmed that the outlet is not using swipe machines because of network issues.

However, upon being questioned by the ZBC News crew, Musa said the machines are working.

Such is what is happening at most shops in the country with consumers calling on the government to intervene.

“The price hikes are just too much. We are suffering as consumers. Can something be done to address such issues,” a consumer said.

“Some shops are only charging in USD only and this becomes difficult for us to survive,” noted another.

“As a pensioner, we are now grateful that we are alive because our money has been eroded. We cannot manage to sustain ourselves because each time we get paid our money would have lost value in the shops,” another weighed in.

Shop managers are blaming the price hikes on the suppliers as some goods are sold exclusively in United States dollars.

A shop manager told the ZBC News, “We are using the bank rate, however, the suppliers are delivering the goods at a higher price and we have no option because we are in business we want to make a profit.”

Another said, “Some of the stuff we buy is in USD and we sell it in USD only.”

The Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube said government is taking action in the wanton price increases as businesses seem to be taking delight in the misery of ordinary citizens.

“On Monday, we are going to fine those that are propagating price hikes and blacklist them. For any shops that are going to continue hiking prices, we are going to withdraw their licenses. I also went to the so-called work bank where people are doing illegal money forex exchanges and talking to them there seems the big shops are also the ones who are putting the money on the streets. We want to send a strong message as a government that we are not happy with what is happening. We have to criminalize this act of having illegal money traders operating from the cars with swipe machines. This shows that this is an organised business with big organisations,” said the minister.

Minister Ncube also told ZBC News that the Zimbabwean dollar is here to stay as it has increased capacity utilisation.

Recently, the government allowed 14 basic commodities to be imported into the country duty-free as a means of cushioning the public in the wake of recent price increases.

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