CCZ urges price freeze

The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) says there should be no upward price adjustments of basic commodities in the first six months of the year as they were already expensive and consumers had limited disposable income.

CCZ executive director Rosemary Siyachitema said last year the consumer basket for an urban family of six increased by between $36 and $40 from January to December despite most employees going for the whole year without salary adjustments.

“Our expectation is that there should not be major price increases in basic commodities for the next six months,” said Siyachitema.

“Millers indicated to us they will not be increasing prices of mealie-meal this year. Our view is that prices of other products are already high.”

The consumer watchdog said it does not anticipate increases in the prices of key utilities such as energy and water as that would have a negative impact on manufacturers who will in turn pass on the increase to consumers.

Latest figures released by CCZ indicate the cost of living for a family of six decreased from $546,34 in November 2011 to $545,35 in December 2011.

However, from the September family basket of $527, 52 to $545, 35 in December there was a huge increase of $18 reflecting a 3% increase.

“CCZ noted that in the month of December 2011 certain products in the food basket increased from the previous month while others have maintained or slightly reduced their prices,” the consumer watchdog said.

Some of the products that increased prices in December include cooking oil 15 cents, tomatoes 10 cents and bathing soap 9 cents.

The consumer watchdog said the food and detergents basket decreased to 176,35 in December from $177,34 in November.

The consumer basket for transport, rent, water and electricity education, clothing and foot wear remained at $369.

“The increase is attributed to the increase in electricity charges which is approximately $45 per month,” said CCZ.

“There is still a challenge in the area of water supply where a number of households are still running dry. Consumers are incessantly encouraged to conserve water and energy.

“CCZ also wants to see a downward movement of prices of basics, especially when the rand has weakened against the dollar. Retailers are quick to increase prices when the rand strengthens against the dollar and yet they ignore when it is the other way round,” CCZ said.

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