Q & A
HON. HOLDER: Thank you Madam Speaker. I said my question is directed to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. What policy has Government put in place to protect hyper inflation since most of the commodities in the shops have gone up by almost 100%?
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. CHOMBO): Thank you Madam Speaker. I wish to thank the Hon. Member for his question, but I think he should direct it to the Minister of Industry and Commerce. I thank you.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Member, may you redirect your question to the appropriate Ministry.
HON. HOLDER: Thank you Madam Speaker, I will redirect my question to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce..
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, order, Hon. Chapfika please bear with us. The Hon. Ministers will need to understand the questions.
HON. HOLDER: I redirect my question to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
THE MINISTER OF INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE (HON. DR. BIMHA): Thank you Madam Speaker, I also want to thank the Hon. Member for raising that question. I would probably preface my response just to bring to the attention of the Hon. Member that on the 22nd September this year, we experienced a crisis arising from unsubstantiated reports through the social media that there was a looming price hike; that there was going to be a widespread shortage of basic commodities and that the Central Bank was in the process of mopping up the United States Dollar.
At the same time, we were also experiencing shortages in terms of forex supplied to manufacturers for them to be able to procure the much needed raw materials for their production. As a result of these unsubstantiated reports or information, there was panic buying and this panic buying also had an effect of causing shortages. In the confusion, we also had other unscrupulous wholesalers, retailers and manufacturers also taking advantage of this.
Now, what Government has done in order to address this issue is in two-fold. Firstly, Cabinet has put together a task force which is chaired by my Ministry to look into the issue of price escalations as well as the availability of basic commodities. This Inter-Ministerial Task Force is guided by very comprehensive terms of reference going further than issues of price or availability of products, going into the whole issue of the availability of forex, issues to do with the cost of money; others also looking through the Competition and Tariff Commission, and collusive and anti-competitive tendencies by suppliers. There is a whole breath of issues that this committee is looking into.
A number of meetings have now been held and tomorrow, the Hon. Ministers will meet to consider the report from the committee of officials. Therefore, tomorrow there will be a meeting of the Hon. Ministers to consider …
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