Unjustified price increases have become a thorn in the flesh for consumers already burdened with limited disposable income.

Foreign currency shortages and speculative behaviour have proved to be major factors behind price hikes on the local market in the past few months.

Following recommendations of a price taskforce, the government intervened by giving guarantee of foreign currency for manufacturers of 16 key products.

The challenge that now arises is weather expectations will be met through the monitoring mechanisms.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers Marketing and Stakeholder Relations Director, Mr Alois Burutsa acknowledged that price increases are occurring with retailers only able to pass the burden to the consumers.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) President, Mr Sifelani Jabangwe said foreign currency supplies are weighing down on the industry’s production capacity.

On huge price discrepancies among the different shops, the Confederations of Zimbabwe Retailers maintained that traders have differing bargaining power and promotional strategies leading to different prices.

With the price monitoring taskforce having been set, concern has emerged in some quarters that an era of price increases may return.

Only time will tell on whether the monitoring mechanism will keep prices in check.  


Government warned

In the face of the prevailing market conditions, economic analysts have advises the government not be tempted to move towards price controls.

In theory and practice, history has it that businesses and markets react rapidly to any form of government control.

The case of the hyper-inflationary period that lasted for almost a decade presents critical lessons for the country.

That the government has moved to monitor prices on identified basic commodities is a welcome development that should reign in the continued price increases that are going beyond the expectations of consumers.

But, an economic analyst, Dr Gift Mugano advised that the government should tread with caution in balancing the act between satisfying the expectations of business and protecting the consumer.

Another analyst, Mr Kipson Gundani said while price monitoring represents some measure to ensure that businesses do not operate in isolation with standing laws, there should be mutual understanding between the two parties.

It is a delicate situation, and government should not be tempted to move into full fledged price controls, Mr Munyaradzi Hwengwere said.

Over and above, it is agreeable that unjustified price increases should not be allowed to continue in the country.

The public and the private sector should now work together to find lasting solutions to address the root problems that continue to fuel price hikes on basic commodities.