THE Harare commission has increased shop licence fees twice this year by more than 3 000%, a move that has shocked shop owners and could result in some
firms failing to pay up, the Independent can reveal.
A letter in possession of the Independent shows that shop owners received notification of increases in shop licences in April 2006, followed by another increase at the beginning of this month.
Bakery owners are set to pay $86 250 000 per annum for a baker’s licence, up from $2 850 000; supermarket owners will pay $37,5 million, while the licence fee for bottle stores and butcheries is pegged at $43,1million.
A baker’s licence that had been increased to $57,5 million in April was further increased to $86 250 000 within a space of less than two months.
An official at the Rowan Martin building where council receives licence fees confirmed the new shop licence fees saying they were in line with the prevailing inflation rates in the country. Robert Whyte, a businessman who runs a bakery, says the new licence charges were illegal and not justified.
“The new licence fees are illegal, immoral and not justified. I mean its ridiculous, especially when our businesses are not operating at full capacity due to persistent power cuts and low flour deliveries and that we are being forced not to increase the price of bread when we are incurring huge operating costs”, said Whyte.
Businesses are currently struggling to break even as the macro-economic environment continues to deteriorate.
Meanwhile, government is forcing bakeries to sell bread at $85 000 while bakers are demanding that they sell bread for at least $130 000.
A number of shop owners have been fined by the police for increasing the price of bread resulting in some bakers boycotting bread production.
A survey around the city showed that supermarkets were not selling bread but were putting flour products like buns, scones and doughnuts on their shelves.