Dumisani Nsingo and Chrispen Gumunyu
THE Grain Millers’ Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) is mulling plans to cut supplies to unscrupulous retailers found liable of pricing basic commodities beyond stipulated margins, an official has said.
Speaking at a retailers-wholesalers joint meeting in Bulawayo last Thursday, GMAZ chairperson Mr Tafadzwa Musarara said the association would officially dispatch price monitoring teams countrywide tomorrow to ascertain if retailers are sticking to the recommended pricing model.
The valid pricing model is based on the mark up margins agreed on during the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between GMAZ and the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers.
“Bulawayo will have price monitoring officers hovering around on Monday next week (this week) and they will interrogate where they will find unjustified price markups. Retailers who will not comply will face blacklisting,” said Mr Musarara.
He also said that GMAZ would notify consumers on justifiable price increases on a weekly basis.
“Due to technological advancements what we are going to do is that we can on daily or weekly basis advise retailers or consumers on the price movements…and do all the necessary consultations with Government,” said Mr Musarara.
He said millers and retailers should thrive to be self regulatory in setting up realistic prices for basic commodities so as to ensure minimum interference from the Government.
“It is important that we try by all means to avoid the incidences of 2005 to 2006 where millers and retailers would blame each other for price increases and Government would have no choice but to enforce price controls. Therefore millers and retailers should unite. We are facing a serious drought season, which will result in low supply of basic commodities so we’d like to urge retailers to be responsible in pricing of goods,” said Mr Musarara.
He said in pricing their goods retailers should stick to the agreed markup margins.
“We are not pushing for price controls but we expect retailers to adhere to maximum recommended price markup margins we have agreed on which must be 13 percent for maize, salt 13 percent, self raising flour 20 percent, rice 20 percent and sugar beans at 20 percent inclusive of two percent intermediary tax and one percent bank charges,” said Mr Musarara.
CZR president Mr Denford Mutashu said the retailers representative body was working on engaging rural businesses to factor in realistic markups inclusive of transport costs. “We want to accommodate retailers from rural areas by coming up with additional markups that will arise from additional costs that they incur in the event that millers do not deliver products to their door steps,” he said.
Economic expert Dr Nyasha Kaseke said retailers should refrain from acts of profiteering to guard against Government effecting price controls. Yesterday GMAZ announced price increases for basic commodities citing a myriad of economic challenges being faced by its members.
“Following significant changes in the economy influenced by inter alia, the change in foreign exchange policy directing millers to use the interbank rate, increase in costs of fuel and pricing of packaging in foreign currency, the GMAZ Costs Review Technical Committee has thoroughly interrogated the costing of our prices…,” read part of the memo by GMAZ to its members.
According to the memo a five kilogramme (kg) of maize roller meal’s maximum recommended retail price of 5kg is $9,6; 10kg $18, 35; 20kg $34, 77; 2kg self-raising flour $14, 72; 2kg salt $4, 80 and 2 kg value white rice $13, 98.
“We have agreed on the prices and we have also informed the authorities accordingly. It is our plea to retailers that they abide by these set margins to avoid price distortions,” said GMAZ media and public relations manager Mr Garikai Chaunza.
Meanwhile, the Government has stopped forthwith all its ministries, departments and agencies from demanding payment for goods and services in foreign currency or the equivalent in RTGS dollars at the prevailing interbank rate.
In a press statement the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development said; “Treasury notes that some Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies are demanding payment for goods and or services rendered in foreign currency or the equivalent in RTGS Dollars at the prevailing interbank rate. Section 78 (1) (r) of the Public Finance Management Act (CAP 22:19) empowers Treasury to prescribe or issue instructions or directions to Ministries, whether individually or collectively, concerning the determination of any scales of fees, other charges or rates relating to revenue accruing to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
“It is important to note that Treasury has not approved any changes to the prevailing levels of fees and payment modalities. Thus, Government fees, charges and levies remain at the approved RTGS Dollars that were formally communicated to each Ministry, Department or Agency. In view of the above, Line Ministries have since been directed, to desist from referencing any fees and charges to the USD, as well as unilaterally and illegally reviewing such fees without the approval of Treasury,” read the statement.