The National Competitiveness Commission (NCC) has engaged manufacturers and wholesalers with a view to finding a lasting solution to spiralling prices of basic goods.
Government has expressed shock at the rate of price increases, and directed the NCC to work out means of solving the pricing mechanisms.
NCC chairman Kumbirai Katsande told Business Weekly this week that a meeting to solve the pricing puzzle was held on Monday.
The meeting involved wholesalers and manufacturers, under the auspices of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI).
“We met with them (wholesalers) on Monday, together with CZI and they are now preparing to meet Government officials,” said Katsande.
“The intention is to put issues (causing price increases) on the table. The parties don’t want too much finger pointing in public so they want to meet and focus on addressing the issues.
“Together we can find a solution on the prices of the 14 monitored commodities.”
The monitored products include flour, bread, cooking oil, fresh milk, washing powder, salt, sugar and chicken.
It could not be immediately established when the meeting between manufacturers and Government would take place, as Industry and Commerce Minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu could not be reached for comment as his mobile phone was not reachable.
However, his deputy Raj Modi recently indicated that Government wanted the NCC to work together with industry, in crafting structures on pricing of goods, standards and service delivery.
The NCC, which was set up in 2017 to examine cost drivers so as to improve business competitiveness using the value chain approach, had largely been invisible as pricing madness took the country by storm.
Government says the NCC is understaffed, with Katsande currently burdened with trying to make the institution visible.
Deputy Minister Modi recently said the NCC was currently doing “the best they can under the current circumstances”, as the organisation is yet to have a CEO and other critical staffers.
The NCC has been playing a critical role in addressing bread prices, which have also been rising.
Deputy Minister Modi said: “I hope that industry players in all sectors of the economy will work closely with the Commission in their work. “My ministry is also looking at how the NCC can, together with suppliers, wholesalers and retailers, engage to come up with best practices on pertinent issues of pricing, standards and service delivery.
“There is need to agree on how our products can be priced using reasonable mark-ups especially between wholesalers and retailers as your role is critical to consumers.”
Policy makers and consumers have expressed concerns that retailers and wholesalers are charging higher profit margins on products, of between 10 percent and 50 percent, which is seen as unethical.