‘NIPC prices too low’

THE recent price increases approved by the National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) are way out of sync with the real prices that are already prevailing on the market.

Most of the prices gazetted by the NIPC are not the ones currently prevailing on the market.

The prices, which were approved on February 9, are valid for three months.

The reviews have also triggered a new wave of price increases as businesses feel that the NIPC-approved figures are either not viable or have been overtaken by events.

The increases in prices came as inflation hit a new high of 100 580,2% in January increasing 34 367,9 percentage points from the December figure of 66 212,3%.

A survey conducted by businessdigest this week shows that by the time the NIPC approved the price for cooking oil (2 litres) to $24,6 million the actual price on the market was $35 million before increasing to $55 million this week.

The NIPC announced that that the new price for a 2 kg packet of white sugar should be $7,9 million when the actual price was already $9 million.

According to the NIPC list hospitals are supposed to charge $10 million consultation fees but most medical institutions are demanding between $35 million and $100 million.

Service providers such as the national airline Air Zimbabwe have also defied the pricing commission by pegging a return ticket for the Harare-Bulawayo route at $381 850 000 instead of the gazetted price of $229 400 000.

The commission said a one-way ticket to London was $2 864 700 000 but Air Zimbabwe is charging $4 479 750 000 plus US$100 departure tax.

A room at Meikles costs $273 000 000 instead of the $55 000 000 stipulated by the NIPC.

Other hotels like Rainbow Tourism Group have also ignored the NIPC’s recommended prices for rooms and meals.

Last week the National Bakers’ Association said it wanted the price of a loaf of bread to be increased to $5,3 million but the commission only approved $200 000. NIPC chairman Godwills Masimirembwa, said the commission’s prices were not always behind the market. “We are not always behind. What is ahead of us is the tendency by some businesses to profiteer,” Masimirembwa said.–Jesilyn Dendere

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