Govt threatens retailers

GOVERNMENT yesterday threatened to withdraw trading licences of all retailers pegging their prices exclusively in United States dollars.

Speaking during a post-Cabinet media briefing in Harare, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said government would not “tolerate this kind of nonsense”.

“We are quite aware that some retailers are putting stickers to say this product can only be bought in US dollars. I want to make it clear and categorical that it is totally unacceptable, and as a government we will not allow that,” he said.

“We will withdraw licenses, and already we have withdrawn the duty rebate licenses so as to allow companies to import. We will not allow this. They are breaking the law. The law says that citizens or anyone approaching a shop should be able to use currencies within the multi-currency regime. We absolutely cannot tolerate this kind of nonsense.”

Retailers and wholesalers have been charging selected products such as sugar, milk, cooking oil and others in US dollars saying they were ordering the products from manufacturers in US dollars.

This has sparked fears that the local currency might be soon rendered useless.

Retailers have been arguing that the Finance ministry had given the nod for them to sell some of their products in US dollars given that they were not getting access to foreign currency from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe system.

On the price of bread flour going up by 10%, Ncube said: “It’s absolutely true that the global situation which has been upon us since the last quarter of last year, and has accelerated due to global tensions is impacting on domestic pricing for most goods through the channel of the three Fs; fuel, food and fertilisers. On this occasion, the food sector itself is saying the fuel pricing is impacting on the prices of flour which is critical for making bread.

“But while we know that fuel prices have been on the rise, we do not know why on this occasion they have increased the prices of flour because the government has been doing everything to curb the sharp increase in fuel prices. We have been regulating the increases  through the reduction of the  fuel margin … we would like to know on this occasion what has triggered it because l have not seen a very sharp increase in fuel prices.”Newsday

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