Z’bar moves to import rice, sugar to curb inflation

ZANZIBAR: IN efforts to counter unnecessary price hikes, especially on essential products such as rice and sugar, Zanzibar government has decided to import such commodities this year.

“We have directed the Zanzibar State Trade Corporation (ZSTC) to expand its business by importing rice and sugar, instead of dealing with cloves only,” Mwinyi said at different occasions in Pemba Islands, where he officiated various activities to mark the 60th anniversary of the 1964 revolution.

He said in Mkoani and Utaani areas in Pemba that the government was aware of the problem of price hike facing people, hence it has started to take different measures to control inflation, urging Zanzibaris to be patient with hope that soon prices will be stable.

“The government has heard your voices, that despite admirable improvements in infrastructures- roads, health, water and education, prices of food are going up. I am also uncomfortable with this situation,” Dr Mwinyi said.

He attributed the price hike of rice and sugar to shortage of supply from some giant producers globally such as India and Indonesia, price increase in the world market, increasing costs for freight transportation, lack of modern wharf in Pemba and hoarding of goods.

“In response to these challenges, the government is constructing a modern wharf at Mkoani and Shumba-Mjini ports so that cargo from Mombasa Kenya can directly be unloaded in Pemba instead of passing via Malindi- Unguja or Dar es Salaam in Tanzania mainland,” said Mwinyi.

He also informed people in Pemba that the decision to task ZSTC to import enough rice and sugar aims to compete with dishonest business people, mainly hoarders in importation, “So that they no longer harass people with uncalled-for inflation.”

Rice, sugar and wheat flour are the main food consumed in Zanzibar. These foods are imported from different markets worldwide.

In March last year, President Mwinyi issued a stern warning to traders who hoard essential commodities such as sugar, rice and wheat flour to create an artificial shortage and hike prices, saying they will be penalised under economic sabotage law.

He said that since Zanzibar relies heavily on importation of foods from Tanzania mainland and abroad, some dishonest traders were capitalising on the situation to hide essential commodities to create artificial shortages with the aim of increasing prices.

“Hoarding commodities is tantamount to economic sabotage; we will investigate to find out traders engaged in that habit. Importers have assured us that there is enough stock of sugar, wheat flour and rice in the country to take us through the Holy Month of Ramadan later this month,” Dr Mwinyi said.

Dr Mwinyi was speaking at the State House, where he said the government took multiple measures to control inflation in the Islands, but some causes of the price hike are beyond the government control.

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