Time for action is now!

© THE current price increases bedevilling the nation are inflicting unbearable pain on the consumer. They have effectively eroded disposable incomes, leaving the majority of the population living from hand to mouth.

Basic goods such as cooking oil, sugar, rice, meat, flour and milk are fetching between five and 50 percent more than they used to the previous month.
This is hurting everyone — the young and old, the employed and unemployed.

Fuel prices have been rising nearly every week since January when government hiked the pump price by about 150 percent.
As far as the consumer is concerned, these price increases are both unjustified and unreasonable.
Government has been equally scathing — with Vice President Constantino Chiwenga describing greedy business people as “terrorists”.

While we don’t think it is unjustified to increase prices in an environment where operating costs are going up daily, we would be happy to see companies acting responsibly when pricing.
On that score, business is still to present a water-tight case to convince us that their actions are above board.
We have so far seen prices of goods that are produced locally tracking exchange rate movements on the parallel market. This simply confirms lack of discipline and greediness.

These unreasonable increases are detrimental not only to the consumer but to business as well which will eventually shut down due to non-viability and competition from cheaper imports.
More importantly, business risks pushing this paranoid government into introducing price controls.
In the meantime, government needs to think seriously about dealing with these imploding prices before they could trigger unrests.

Because, the price increases are largely a result of the plummeting value of the RTGS$, there is need for government to come up with an export strategy that will assist the country in earning the much-needed foreign currency and in the process stabilise and reduce prices.

It must also introduce some safety nets to take care of those who can no longer afford to keep body and soul together.
Consumer watchdog — the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) must also show some teeth.
CCZ has become a toothless bulldog that has been doing nothing to protect the consumer from these greedy businesses.

This business by the authorities of making one promise after another does not work and must stop. 
The time for action is now!


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