Nzenza admits price moratorium scuttled by unstable exchange rate

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By Anna Chibamu

PRICES of goods and services are likely to keep on rising as long as the exchange rate issue remains unresolved, Industry and Commerce minister Sekai Nzenza has warned.

Nzenza told MPs during Wednesday’s question and answer session in Parliament that an earlier price rise moratorium between government and stakeholders in different sectors had not been effective due to the exchange rate which has not been stable.

“It is certainly true that we have witnessed prices continuously going up to the extent that we had a stakeholder meeting with retailers and in good faith, agreed to put on a moratorium of price rises.

“I would like to admit Mr. Speaker Sir, that it was not as effective as we thought it was going to be.

“The major problem, Mr. Speaker Sir, is that we are struggling with the exchange rate.  We need to stabilise the economy and that is also impacting on the prices,” said Nzenza.

The minister was responding to MDC Alliance MP, Tapiwa Mashakada who had asked about “recent weeks’ skyrocketing of prices of basic commodities”.

Mashakada had asked what policy measures government had in place to stabilise prices of basic commodities and stimulate domestic production so as to contain inflation.

Nzenza had also attributed the problems some “difficult” people she accused of not being sympathetic to the consumer.

“We are appealing to those who continuously raise prices to be a bit more cognisant and sympathetic to the ordinary citizen,” she said.

She highlighted her ministry was looking at import substitution and working closely with the agriculture ministry to try and increase the production of raw materials in the country.

“This requires different line ministries to work together in order to meet the Presidential mandate towards increased employment, import substitution, innovation with the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development so that our vision will become true,” added Nzenza.

She promised a raft of measures in place to contain the situation.

“We do have a strategy looking at import substitution and within this strategy we are looking at what we are calling the low hanging fruit.

“These are the key priorities and one of them is looking at the pharmaceutical industry and the second one is looking at the fertiliser industry.

“So, what you will see in this coming season we will be producing fertiliser locally and that is the timeline.

“We are also looking at the leather and cotton industry and again by the end of this year we will show results.  That is the timeline.”