The Zimbabwe Cross Border Traders Association (ZCBTA) has castigated local producers of goods for unjustified exorbitant pricing and called for unfettered access of imported goods into the market to bring fair pricing.
Prices of goods have been skyrocketing with local producers attributing this to increased cost of production due to the hyper-inflationary macro-economic environment in the country.
However, some increases have not been justified, but merely profiteering-driven.
In an interview with 263Chat, ZCBTA secretary general Augustine Tawanda bemoaned import restrictions on some basic commodities.
“It is sad to note that consumers are forced to pay through the nose for goods they can import from the region at a competitive price while on the other hand local producers prefer to profiteer in the name of protecting jobs,” said Tawanda.
“It is common knowledge that price distortions and exchange control instability benefit cartels and elite in the corporate sector hence their hesitation to address economic ills,”
“Given operating space, cross border traders can bring sanity in this area, if the Government temporarily lifts import restrictions on some basic commodities which are being overcharged and allow cross border traders to freely import these goods.”
Zimbabwe has some products restricted from importation such as certain creams, soaps and lotions, jewelry, carbonated beverages for resale, textiles and clothing and secondhand clothes for resale. Meat imports are controlled by a quota system administered by the Ministry of Agriculture.
This comes at time local producers are celebrating an increase in market dominance following years of imported products dominating the market as recent reports say around 80 of shelf space is now occupied by local products.
Tawanda said if restrictions were lifted local producers will be forced to adjust their prices also be competitive on the export market.
“This will force local producers to reduce the prices to regional parity levels. Cross border traders can also increase exports into the region if supportive mechanisms are put in place.” he said
Tawanda expressed concern on the financial exclusion of cross border traders and the informal economy saying the stimulus package set up by the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development was not accessible.
“It is common cause that the Zimbabwe economy is heavily informalized and that the informal sector has more forex than players in the formal sector so what is needed is to increase flows from the informal economy to the formal by creating a win-win situation where formal economy players can receive forex from cross border traders without the risk of falling foul with the law,” said Tawanda.