THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) last week released over $10 million to the manufacturing sector to address the shortages of basic commodities and wanton price increases, NewsDay has learnt.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
Industry and Commerce minister Mangaliso Ndlovu last Friday held a crisis meeting with other government departments, including Treasury and the central bank as well as captains of industry and commerce to find a solution in dealing with commodity and price distortions.
Speaking to NewsDay after touring manufacturers of Zimgold cooking oil, Pure Oil Industries as well as wholesaler Trade Centre and OK Ardbennie supermarket on Friday in Harare, the minister blamed panic buying for the current shortages.
“I think they (RBZ) have released in excess of $10 million to the manufacturing sector that is going towards production,” he said.
“Most products are available, excluding some basic commodities that seem to be in short supply like sugar. They (retailers) are telling me the sugar they had would last the whole month, but now it was being bought in a record three hours. Today (Friday), they (OK Ardbennie) received bread which normally lasts them the day, but by 11am it was finished. The same goes for all these basic commodities where the moment they are delivered there is a run-in, queues, which makes them (retailers) having to limit the quantities.”
He said his assessment was that generally, goods were available and that the price increases and basic commodity shortages were due to panic and speculative buying.
According to sources, the panic buying has created a higher demand from producers who now needed more forex to meet the growing requirement.
Industry and Commerce deputy minister Raj Modi, who is also a businessperson, tweeted on microblogging site Twitter on Friday that some of his liquor was now being sold in strictly United States dollars.
“I would like to inform my valued clients that only alcoholic drinks bought in USD are being sold in USD to allow us to restock. Our suppliers want USD, nothing else. For all other goods, Liquor Hub accepts any form of payment. Bond notes and plastic money are legal tender,” he said. Ndlovu said most basic commodity shortages were on sugar, cooking oil and bread, but blamed it on panic buying rather than on forex shortages.
“What I found today (Friday) for most of these businesses, the retailers and wholesalers, was that prices of most commodities have remained reasonable except for a few. I mean I saw compound D fertilizer going for $50 and I thought that was exorbitant because of the speculative behaviour I am talking about,” Ndlovu said.
“Unfortunately, my schedule could not allow me to visit the tuckshops because we wanted to also visit them which is where the prices seem to be increasing at a much higher rate because they will go and buy these commodities at fairly normal prices and go out there to sell them at a much higher price.”
Ndlovu said those heavy spenders at wholesale or retail supermarkets were doing so for speculative reasons to resell at much higher prices.