Ministry of Industry and Trade authorities in Malawi are threatening to “bring to book” all traders and service providers who are not reducing prices of their goods and services in response to what they say, improvements of economic situation, which country is currently experiencing.
In a statement made available to Nyasa Times on Friday, Secretary for Industry and Trade, Nebert Nyirenda cites the appreciation of Malawi kwacha against major trading currencies, reduction in pump prices of fuel, the easing of inflation and the decrease in treasury bills rates as a manifestation of economic improvement.
Nyirenda says such developments are a result of government’s firm resolve and commitment in the implementation of the Economic Recovery Plan (ERP).
“However, the ministry has noted with concern, that despite the improving economic situation in the country, some businesses are not passing on the benefits to the consumers,” he says.
He says “despite the fact that transportation costs have fairly reduced due to the reduction in pump prices of fuel”, prices for their goods and services are still unfairly exorbitant and not reflect the cost structure prevailing in the current economic environment.
Nyirenda is therefore advising the business community to pass on the benefits of the improving economic environment to the consumer adding that the ministry in collaboration with the Competition and Fair Trading Commission will continue monitoring the situation and will not hesitate to punish all businesses and traders involved in malpractices and unfair trade.
Consumer rights advocate John Kapito said despite the gains registered by the Kwacha being seasonal, authorities should use its arms and agencies to ensure that pricing of products and services are reflective to the value of the Kwacha.
“Much as we know that the gains being made by the Kwacha is temporary as it has been influenced by trading of a seasonal crop in this case tobacco, we feel government must use agencies such as the competition and fair trading commission to protect the public from exploitative pricing by traders because there cannot be any justification to cling to old prices and not reduce them,” said Kapito.
On the other hand former president of the Farmers Union of Malawi Felix Jumbe said it would be realistic if the gains by the kwacha are seen in the reduction of farm input costs such as fertilisers, seeds, animal feeds and insecticides.