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Industry warned over price increases


Finance minister Tendai Biti said inflation should end the year within the 4,5% rate target despite wanton increase in the price of commodities following the re-introduction of duty on selected products last month.

Speaking at a media briefing on Tuesday, Biti castigated some sections of the business community for wantonly increasing prices of commodities adding that inflation that had been contained in the second quarter of the year was fast gathering momentum reaching 3,3% at the end of July.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Finance, the price of mealie-meal went up by 22 cents, white sugar 5c, onions 20c, beef 10c and that of salt by 3c.

He said the economy was on track to achieve the growth rate of 9,3%.

Biti said as a result of the salary increment to civil servants, rentals per room in most suburbs had shot up to around $60 up from $40 per month in the process liquidating the disposable income that had been created.

“We are concerned with the irresponsible manner of some of our business people. These are worrisome developments which if not addressed will reverse the gains made on overall macroeconomic stabilisation,” said Biti.

“Let me further reiterate that duty reinstatement and moderate adjustment on some basic and other food commodities were meant to enhance the capacity, productivity, viability and competitiveness of local producers, translating into a win-win situation for both producers and consumers.

“I am therefore urging local producers to reciprocate government support by refraining from unethical, speculative and rent-seeking activities, but rather take advantage of such dispensation to improve productivity.”

He said if the business community continued to abuse the recently introduced tariff regime the government will be forced to act.

Biti also bemoaned the bloated travel delegations by the government saying this was draining the little financial resources available.

He said as a result of a crowding effect the government will be forced to cut expenditure for funding for social protection, teacher training colleges and polytechnics among others.

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