Zim Finance Minister Warns Bakeries Against Bread Price Hike

Biti was addressing journalists following threats to increase the price of bread by the National Bakers Association of Zimbabwe President, Dumisani Moyo.

Moyo insists the price of importing wheat and that of sourcing for flour has sky rocketed.

He also contended the price of flour had surged from $680 per tonne to more than $710, hence their plans to hike the price of bread.

But Biti on Monday came guns blazing saying he will not allow the bread makers to trigger a contagious price increase on all other commodities.

“The statement by the Bakers Association of Zimbabwe was very misleading,” Biti said.

“There is absolutely no duty on the importation of wheat and wheat is imported by millers who then sell to bakeries. The Bakers Association of Zimbabwe is trying to put pressure on us to liberalise the importation of flour which is processed wheat but if we do that we are now damaging the local milling industry.

“So there is no duty at all on wheat there is a small duty on flour to protect the local milling industry which is the manufacturing base.

“It is irresponsible to insinuate an increase in the price of bread when the price of wheat and the duty on wheat is nonexistent and has not been increased. What they are trying to argue is that ‘give us the carte blanche licence of importing flour and not wheat’ and that is in fact an unfortunate position because we would be damaging the local industry.

“So as far as we are concerned, there is nothing to justify any rise in the price of bread and we will not allow that situation.”

Biti said the argument by the bakers that fuel was also contributing to the intended price increase was not justified saying the bakers use electricity primarily to produce the bread and that international prices of hydro-carbons were decreasing.

Meanwhile, Biti said government was pleased with that the current census enumeration exercise which started in a cloud of controversy and was now “98 percent complete”.

He said the enumerators were now going back to households whose occupants were absent when they visited them and those built on undesignated land, otherwise known as in-fills.

Biti also said that government would this Wednesday convene the Zimbabwe High Level Economic Forum in Victoria Falls, which shall involve international experts on how the fiscus is managed.

This will help government diagnose some of its problems. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is set to officially open the high profile indaba.