Money printing Zimbabwe eases price controls after shortages

HARARE, Aug 22, 2007 (AFP) – Zimbabwe’s government has authorised retailers to raise the prices of basic goods in order to ease widespread shortages which followed the imposition of price cuts, state media reported Wednesday.

Shops and businesses which were ordered to slash their prices two months as part of a controversial crackdown on so-called profiteers will now be able to increase their charges for commodities such as sugar, cooking oil and soap as well as phone bills by up to 20 percent, The Herald reported.

Agriculture retailers would also be able to hike their charge to farmers for maize seed and insect killer, the daily added.

Obert Mpofu, the country’s industry minister, acknowledged the need to increase the availability of goods, saying “more concerted efforts should … be put on improving the supply of basic commodities to the market.”

“Stakeholders are, therefore, urged to have a common sense of purpose, direction and focus for the benefit of all Zimbabweans,” he told the paper.

It is the first time the government has allowed retailers to increase the cost of basic commodities since the launch of Operation Dzikiza (Operation Reduced Prices) when they were effectively forced to halve their