THE cost of goods and services is set to go down again as
the country is making strides in stabilising the economy following the
successful implementation of the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP)
which comes to an end in December.

This was said by the Minister of Finance and Economic
Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube, while meeting the Bulawayo business
community in the city yesterday.

Prof Ncube shared the success story of the country so far
as it moves into introducing a new economic blueprint, the National Development
Strategy (NDS) next year saying the country now has a firm foundation to attain
an upper middle-income status by the year 2030.

“Inflation has hit us hard but prices are stable and they
are set to go down again soon as there is competition now in locally
manufactured goods. Business can now plan for the future as prices of goods and
services will be stable,” he said.

Prof Ncube said the stabilisation of the local currency has
seen an increase in locally manufactured goods on the shelves.

“Locally manufactured goods have also started to penetrate
the local market more than before. If you go into shops you can see that there
is import substitution. Companies are beginning to make especially food
products locally as against importing. We applaud that because there is job
creation for the youths and shows growth of the business sector owing to the
stability of the currency and we are now more competitive against imports,” he

Moving forward, Prof Ncube said locally manufactured goods
would be exported and bring in the much-needed foreign currency to the country.

“Companies have also started selling their goods outside
the country and that is growth showing that we are exporting more and that is a
positive move. If this had been the other way around, we would have been
exporting jobs in a way. As a Government we are noticing that the economy is
going in the right direction and we have to maintain that moving forward,” he

He also touched on how the Government is putting social
safety nets to protect vulnerable communities.

“Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in March
2020, we saw it fit to try and do something for the people. We provided
subsidised mealie-meal at a low price of $70 per 10kg and this was marred by
corruption as some people purchased loads of that mealie-meal and sold it
outside the country for high prices leading to shortages back home. Because of
drought we also had shortages of maize in the country and we couldn’t import
enough grain because of shortage of foreign currency to mill and produce
mealie-meal at an affordable price,” he said.

Prof Ncube said following those disturbances, the
Government decided to give social grants to the less fortunate to ensure they
do not go hungry.

“We then saw it fit to give funds to the vulnerable and
this was pegged at $300 when we started. We are trying to increase them to a
higher figure so that beneficiaries can buy mealie-meal, sugar and cooking oil

We are working on that and we are still looking for more of
these people who are vulnerable so that they benefit from this fund, some have
registered already. We had teething problems with mobile phone operators that
we were disbursing the funds through but we have rectified that already to work
with them again,” added Prof Ncube.

The Minister also said the Government has also channelled
money to the education system to pay for school fees under BEAM, construction
of schools and also in the Intwasa/Pfumvudza programme that is also applicable
to urban farmers so that they benefit from seed and fetilisers. Another chunk
of surpluses, he said, was being channelled to the health sector and the civil
service in general to cater for allowances in regards to Covid-19.

He lamented the shortage of boarding secondary schools in
rural areas saying there is a need to construct more to enable children in
those communities to have access to schools. Turning to the water issue in
Bulawayo, Prof Ncube said funds were channelled to the local authority to
improve on the crisis at hand.

“We have been drilling boreholes in the Nyamandlovu Aquifer
to bring water to Bulawayo. As Government we give raw water to the city council
and they treat it to make it usable and safe for the city. That is where the
challenge is, to clean that water and pipe it, look at what happened in Luveve,
people died from a water borne disease, we don’t want that to happen again and
we are really trying in terms of providing this raw water.

“There is some funding that is available for the Mtshabezi
Dam to repair pipes and valves and also Insiza Dam has an allocation. I am glad
the production and quality water keeps increasing per day in the city, the
water is very clean but now there is a lot of work that the city council needs
to do in order for them to bring it to the people,” he said.

On the business side, he said the country had made strides
in improving the environment for doing business locally saying President
Mnangagwa was keen on courting the outside world in ensuring they invest in the
country and improve relations over time to make the country a top destination
for investment.

The foreign currency auction system, he said, has been a

“We have managed to sell a significant amount of money and
we have sold just above US$300 million that we will use to aid companies locally.
We have also enabled the public to determine their own exchange rate,” said
Prof Ncube. Sunday News

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