Industry and Commerce Minister Kumbirai Kangai’s rallying call to consumers to show their mettle and force prices down, has recently shown that it can work provided his ministry creates the right atmosphere.
This was amply demonstrated by the decision by emergency taxi operators in Bulawayo to reduce their fares from $1.50 to $1 within a week of increasing the fare after commuters resisted the new fare.
The tough times people are now facing have forced them to take a closer look at everything they do, probably to save more for essential items.
While basic foodstuffs continue to escalate, their prices are simply being sustained because they are scarce. At the height of mealie meal shortage, for example, the price of potatoes shot up to almost $40 a packet with a five kg packet fetching $18. When the mealie meal began to roll in, the price slumped to about $11 almost the same price they sold for before the effects of the current drought began to be felt.
A similar example has also been experienced with electronic equipment like computers and globes. Their prices are now so reasonable no one really needs to travel out to buy the equipment especially when one takes into account the tax one has to pay when obtaining the foreign currency and the duty one has to pay to clear the equipment.
Unfortunately the trend is likely to be halted by the current drought as the government had already fallen far short of the 50 percent target to place materials and components on the open general import licence.
Besides, instead of the planned cut on import surtax, it was increased.