No drastic mealie-meal price reduction
By PRINCE MABUMBA
ZAMBIANS should not expect drastic reductions in the prices of mealie Meal because Zambia is a free market economy where prices are dictated by the market forces, the Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) has warned.
Andrew Chintala, the MAZ president has said time for price controls were gone and that it was the market forces which were determining the increase or reduction in the prices of commodities.
Mr Chintala’s caution caomes barely days MAZ and the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) reached an agreement to reduce the price of mealie-meal to K160 per 25 kilogramme bag in Lusaka and K170 for the Copperbelt.
The agreement comes after FRA’s release of over 152,000 metric tonnes of maize to some millers countrywide in an effort to trigger reduction in the cost of mealie- meal.
Mr Chintala said in an interview with the Daily Nation that Zambia was a free market economy and that MAZ did not expect mealie-meal prices to drastically reduce following the agreement with FRA.
“We operate within the framework of a free market economy. For us, our responsibility is to mark down the reduction of prices just like we announced,” Mr Chintala said.
He said all he could do to move a step further was to encourage consumers to buy mealie-meal from designated selling points and recommended supermarkets and retail chain store outlets.
“That way, consumers will ensure that they are buying the commodity at the recommended price,” Mr Chintala said.
He explained that MAZ could only manage to control pricing within its jurisdiction, which was mainly depots and points of mealie meal distribution.
“For those that have chosen to buy on the open market, I think that is a matter that the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) needs to take up. For us, our hands are tied. We can only control these prices within our areas of jurisdiction, which is the depots, agents and distribution points as well as the factory prices,” Mr Chintala said.