Africa Moyo Deputy News Editor
Government is working to end cash shortages, eliminate cash discounts and the multi-tier pricing system which have negatively impacted on hard-pressed consumers.
Further, the Government intends to strengthen the regulatory environment to punish traders that continue employing the multi-tier pricing system and offering cash discounts.
This was said by Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube in an interview yesterday.
Some retailers are openly displaying different prices for cash and electronic payments.
A loaf of bread costs $14,85 cash, but the price rises to $18,40 when using mobile or electronic money.
Bread prices are between $11 and $13 on the streets where traders demand cash, prompting many citizens to want to withdraw money and enjoy such discounts.
Traders at the Mbare fresh produce market are demanding cash, with watermelons going for between $3 and $30 compared to supermarkets where they are going for up to $100.
Prof Ncube said Government was aware of the cash challenges and the attendant problems and promised to continue feeding cash into the system.
“As we said, this is a progression. We are drip-feeding the economy with cash. We are doing everything to make sure that there is more cash, there is higher denominations and those who are being prejudiced through this refusal (to accept small coins) should exchange their small coins for higher denominations.
“Then going forward, we will be issuing higher denominations of Zimbabwe dollar $10, $20. We will let you know once we are ready.”
Turning to multi-tier pricing by retailers, Prof Ncube said laws were being perfected to clamp down on the practice.
“We are aware of all these challenges and also, we are going through a transition as an economy. I think it’s fair that we cannot clean-up the system and achieve 100 percent compliance all in one year or one day.
“We accept as Government that we are going through a transition, but we will enforce the law. Part of that (multiple pricing), we think is because of the shortage of cash so once we solve that as a key issue, a lot of the multiple pricing will go away,” he said.
Prof Ncube said there was need for enforcement and better regulation to eliminate multiple pricing.
He said he expected price distortions to dissipate slowly by next year on the back of falling inflation and the injection of more cash into circulation.
Last week, President Mnangagwa signed the Consumer Protection Bill into law, with traders engaging in multi-tier pricing and displaying unpriced goods now liable to hefty fines.
The new law was published in an Extraordinary Government Gazette dated December 10, 2019.
Unfair pricing will attract a Level 5 fine ($600) or imprisonment for a period not exceeding three months, or both.