Source: Price controls Bill gazetted – Sunday News September 24, 2016
WANTON overpricing of goods and services is set to be thing of the past following gazetting of the National Competitiveness Commission (NCC) Bill last Friday.
The Bill provides the framework to reduce prices of goods and services in the economy by encouraging competitiveness and improving the ease of doing business. Gazetting of the Bill also paves way for the repeal of the National Incomes and Pricing Act Chapter 14:32.
There has been concern that goods and services are overpriced in many sectors of the economy and, once in force, the NCC will ensure fair pricing across the board.
According to the Bill, the NCC will develop policies to make Zimbabwe competitive on a global scale. Part six of the Bill reads:
“The functions of the Commission shall be to… develop, co-ordinate and implement key income and pricing policies that will enhance Zimbabwe’s global competitiveness; monitor evolving sector specific subjects and strategies for enhancing Zimbabwe’s global competitiveness.”
The NCC states that the Commission will also monitor any tariff or price hike for services such as electricity, water as well as police fines.
“The function of the Commission will be to …review all price changes by the Government, statutory corporations and local authorities when charging or levying user fees, rates penalties and fines payable by the public and clients,” states the Bill.
Other functions of the Bill include “to continuously monitor the cost drivers in the business and economic environment… to provide a platform for dialogue between the public and private sector, labour, academia, and non-state actors on the subject of competitiveness.”
The Bill highlights that the Commission will compile an annual national report on competitiveness as well develop periodic competitiveness frameworks and strategies. Under the Bill, services public and private entities are compelled to provide information that may be required by the Commission pertaining to issues on competitiveness.
Most products and services in Zimbabwe are overpriced owing to a combination of factors that include high costs of doing business, borrowing and a culture of profiteering inherited from the hyperinflationary era. The appreciation of the US dollar against other currencies on the globe has also led to Zimbabwe’s products to be priced higher in comparison to the region, leading to influx of imports from neighbouring countries.
Studies show that the economic successes of developed countries such as the United States, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Ireland and South Korea has been benchmarked on sound competitiveness frameworks. An international expert on competitiveness Mr Kevin Murphy recently told our Harare Bureau that Zimbabwe should strategise for competitiveness to ensure economic growth. Mr Murphy said in Africa only a few countries such as Tanzania, Rwanda, Egypt and South Africa have standardised competitiveness frameworks.