There is no justification to suddenly increase the price of mealie meal when maize and fertiliser was supplied on the market when the exchange rate was below the current rate, President Edgar Lungu has said.
He said the current economic challenges should not be used as an excuse to exploit the already stressed consumers.
President Lungu warned that Government would undertake measured interventions aimed at protecting the consumer from unjustified price hikes.
He said this when he officially opened and closed the 110th Zambia National Farmers Union Annual Congress.
He said he is hopeful that market players will play by the rules so that they do not lead government to contemplate interventions beyond the normal regulatory oversights.
“We will allow market forces to regulate the market, but let me assure the nation that government will undertake measured interventions to protect the consumer from unjustified price hikes of essential commodities such as mealie meal, meat, cooking oil, bread and others.
“There can be no justification for instance, why maize and fertiliser supplied on the market when the exchange rate was below the current rate, should go up suddenly! Iam hopeful that market players will play by the rules so that they do not lead government to contemplate interventions beyond the normal regulatory oversights,” President Lungu said.
President Lungu has also directed councils and other statutory institutions to take into considerations the business regulatory Act no. 3 of 2014 in order to ensure that consultations and impact assessments were done before introducing any new costs on business.
He noted that councils had misconstrued his opening remarks at the Local Government Association of Zambia (LGAZ) over the abolition of grain levies which they had allegedly reinstated in an arbitrary manner.
“The Patriotic Front government believes in the rule of law. Therefore, my directive to councils is that if they are going to introduce grain levies and indeed any other commodity levies, consultations should be done and the private sector should have services in return. The PF government is about transparency hence the engagement of stakeholders remains paramount,” he said.
He has said that government attached great importance to the industry and that it would embrace privet investments as it was an engine to economic development but advised private players to conduct themselves according to rules.
“We are ready to walk the talk and will work with the private sector to ensure that agriculture becomes competitive and penetrates the export markets. The splitting of the Ministry of agriculture into two is expected to provide the necessary support towards crops and livestock and fisheries respectively. Government has confidence in the private sector as the engine for economic development.