Wholesalers, retailers on the radar as consumer prices rise

07May 2022
Songa wa Songa
The Guardian
Wholesalers, retailers on the radar as consumer prices rise

UNSCRUPULOUS manufacturers and traders are ripping off Tanzanians by hiking prices of essential goods, hiding behind fuel price pressures arising from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Dr Ashatu Kijaji, the minister for Investment, Industry and Trade, made this remark when tabling fiscal year estimates for 2022/2022 in the National Assembly yesterday, acknowledging that there are genuine reasons for price increases especially imported goods.

Citing supply gaps occasioned by the conflict in the heart of Europe, she said that some people are out to make a killing by anticipating shortages due to the conflict.

To this end, the minister directed the Fair Competition Commission (FCC) to start tracing and taking legal action against manufacturers and traders who have hiked prices of essential goods.

The minister said in her presentation that almost everything has gone up in retail prices, with grain, edible oil and construction materials leading the pack.

“Irregular hiking of prices is illegal under section 9 (1) of the Fair Competition Act, No.8 of 2003,” she affirmed.

“The FCC is hereby directed to make a close follow-up on essentials that have been highly affected by the price hikes and take action against culprits in accordance with the law.”

The minister named edible oil as among essentials that price was genuinely affected by the outbreak of the conflict, capping delivery handicaps arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Two months ago a tonne of sunflower oil sold at $1,491.30 with palm oil standing at$776.96, up from $711.71 and $573.02 respectively by March 2019, a 149.67 per cent rise, she said.

Locally, beans—one of the most affordable staples—has risen from 177,340/- per 100kg bag in March 2021 to 188,294/- a year later, a 6.2 per cent hike, she stated, noting further that a 100kg bag of maize sold at 48,341/- in March 2021 and 59,861/- two months ago, equal to a 23 per cent rise. The average price of rice has gone up from 139,212/- per 100kg sack in March 2021 to 185,278/- last March, she specified.

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said in winding up debate on PMO budget estimates here last month that measures were being taken to enhance local industrial output especially in the food subsector, for wheat, edible oil and sugar to diminish import needs. This requires improving the investment and business environment, providing incentives to investors.

Tanzania imports 55.5 per cent of its total edible oil requirements despite its potential in palm oil and sunflower crop farming. The country similarly relies on imported raw materials for producing edible oils and soaps.

Experts say Tanzania has more-or-less similar weather conditions with Malaysia from where it imports most of its palm oil, as South Asian country is the world’s second largest producer of palm oil. Tanzania is not even recognizes as palm oil producing country, agro-sector experts affirm.

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