Government says it will not impose any price controls on the market, but will play a mediation role between stakeholders while ensuring food security, a senior official has said.
This comes after a crisis meeting between grain millers and manufacturers of packaging materials held yesterday after the latter more than doubled the cost of packaging material, a development that could cause a price reaction across the entire value chain.
Last month, prices of many goods rocketed following a spike in exchange rates on the parallel market, a situation that resulted in supply gaps and shortages as consumers scrambled for the available shelf products.
Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Vangelis Haritatos, said it was imperative for stakeholders within industries to consult, engage and come up with a consensus to ensure sustainability for everyone especially consumers.
As such, no price controls would be imposed as Government has no such intentions.
He said the recent price increase in packaging material which could also trigger price increases of basics such as mealie meal and flour was unfortunate and called on the stakeholders to come up with an agreement in an amicable manner.
“As Government, we encourage engagement and not just impose prices without consulting stakeholders,” he said at a Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) press briefing in Harare yesterday.
“Government has no intention of setting price controls. Government would only intervene. We are dealing with food, which is a basic and crucial component of human lives. It has to be reasonable,” he said.
Deputy Minister Haritatos also said while there would be no price controls, Government would ensure sanity prevailed across sectors while ensuring food security.
“If there is a deadlock, we then come in. As Agriculture Ministry, our task is also to ensure food security and that no one is hungry,” he said.
GMAZ chairman Tafadzwa Musarara said while the price increases in packaging materials were unfortunate, millers remained upbeat the price would go down and ensure affordability of the basic commodities.
Failure of that would mean the prices of basics such as mealie meal, flour, sugar, bread and salt would be beyond the reach of many, which was tantamount to denying people a basic human right.
“We expect manufacturers to respond positively from the engagements we had today,” he said on the sidelines of the GMAZ meeting with packaging manufacturers.
“We sell a commodity which is deemed a human right and if our costs start to be foreign currency denominated then it makes difficult to sell product, it becomes expensive,” he said.
It emerged that some of the manufacturers of packaging materials were demanding payments in foreign currency further compounding the challenge.