Price hikes hit Mozambican’s pockets
In file Club of Mozambique
There will be no breakdown in supplies of consumer goods for the approaching festive season, according to Mozambican producers, wholesalers and commercial associations.
At a Maputo press conference on Friday representatives of the various bodies concerned insisted that there will be enough food and drink for the Christmas and New Year period.
A spokesperson for the vendors at Maputo’s largest wholesale market, in the outer suburb of Zimpeto, said that every day the market would be selling 2,000 crates of tomatoes, 20,400 ten kilo sacks of potatoes, 5,400 sacks of onions (also ten kilos) and four and a half tonnes of cabbage.
Much of the Maputo market will be supplied by Mozambican produce from Chokwe, in the Limpopo Valley, said the Zimpeto representative, which should held reduce imports and keep prices under control. But if necessary, the Zimpeto wholesalers can import larger amounts from South Africa.
Mozambique’s sole brewing company, Cervejas de Mocambique (Beers of Mozambique – CDM) promised that it will put 4.9 million crates of beer on the market. Almost half of this amount (2.8 million crates) is intended for the southern provinces, and particularly Maputo where the demand for beer is at its highest.
But the CDM representative complained that the Maputo brewery has recently run into problems with irregular electricity and water supplies. However, the company expected that these problems will shortly be overcome and will not compromise the CDM festive season plans.
The Maputo municipal councilor for fairs and markets, Orlando Fonseca, said that this year wholesale trading will be decentralized, through the establishment of commercial depots in five sports grounds and public squares. The Zimpeto wholesalers will be able to sell their wares in these places from 06.00 to 17.30 every day as from 15 December (but, for security reasons, must take unsold produce back to Zimpeto at the end of the day).
A representative of the National Economic Activities Inspectorate (INAE) said free phone lines will be available for consumers to denounce any irregularities practiced by wholesalers or retailers.
The Municipal Council, the Maputo Directorate of Industry and Trade and INAE promised to strengthen their brigades which, throughout the festive season, will guarantee compliance with the trading norms established by law. They also appealed to citizens to be on their guard, and to denounce any “opportunism” by traders.
The fear is clearly that traders will take advantage of the recent depreciation of the national currency, the metical, to impose unjustified price rises. The directorate of industry and trade is thus urging wholesalers and retailer to respect the mechanisms of supply and demand, and warned that those who hike their prices unjustifiably can be sanctioned under the law.
Since the traders claim to have sufficient reserves of all the basic foodstuffs, there would seem little reason for any price rises over the next few weeks. Those basic foods are: maize flour, wheat flour, rice, second grade fish, frozen chickens, vegetable oil, sugar, butter beans, tomatoes, onions, potatoes and eggs.
The city director of industry and trade, Porfirio Reis, urged all the traders to display their prices publicly. This is a basic measure of honesty and transparency, and not merely for the holiday period – but it is usually disregarded, and it is rare to see market stallholders display their prices.
In theory, profit margins are established by law, and Reis urged the traders not to exceed those margins. He pointed out that much of the food trucked in from South Africa had been imported at a lower exchange rate than the current 3.74 meticais to the South African rand.
In fact, prices have already risen substantially. There are markets where a 10 kilo sack of potatoes sold for 160-170 meticais (about 3.2 US dollars) a couple of weeks ago, but today’s price has reached 250 meticais. A frozen chicken which used to cost 140 meticais now sells for 180. Such price rises threaten to cast a shadow over the end of year festivities.Source: AIM News