By Staff Reporter
The government has said retailers are intentionally harming the economy by engaging in speculative pricing practices and hiding goods from store shelves.
Speaking during a post Cabinet press briefing, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa expressed concerns about the artificial shortage of essential goods in retail stores.
“Based on our survey, most basic commodities are generally available in both formal and informal retail establishments, although we have observed artificial shortages for certain locally-produced goods, particularly in formal retail shops,” stated Minister Mutsvangwa.
She further noted that prices of essential items in formal retail outlets were considerably higher, both in United States dollars and the local currency, compared to the informal market.
According to her, this indicates the presence of speculative forward pricing. Moreover, consumers are being compelled to purchase unnecessary goods from formal retailers who refuse to accept transactions in both United States dollars and Zimbabwean dollars.
In response to these issues, Minister Mutsvangwa assured the nation that the Quality Assurance and Trade Measures Department within the Ministry of Industry and Commerce is currently conducting an enforcement blitz to ensure the quality and accurate measurement of basic commodities and violators will face appropriate fines.
Last week, the government took action by temporarily lifting import duties on basic goods in an attempt to curb the alleged profiteering by retailers.
Minister Mutsvangwa confirmed that the suspension of import duties will remain in effect for the next six months.
The soaring prices of essential commodities have become unaffordable for many citizens, particularly those who earn in the local currency, which has experienced significant depreciation since late last year.