Mozambique’s Minister of Industry and Trade, Max Tonela, on Monday warned against price speculation by unscrupulous traders as the festive season approaches, and promised that the government is making every effort to guarantee price stability.
That stability was possible argued Tonela, because of a recovery in the exchange rate of the Mozambican currency, the metical. After a period of sharp devaluation in November, the metical has been appreciating strongly over the past fortnight, against the US dollar, and particularly against the South African rand, the currency in which most of Mozambique’s food imports are denominated.
Speaking to reporters after a visit to the new installations of the Coca-Cola factory in Matola-Gare, about 20 kilometres from central Maputo, Tonela said “after a period where the trend was for rising prices, in the last week we have seen a declining tendency. Some products are falling in price because the value of the metical is rising against the dollar and the rand”.
Tonela took the opportunity to warn that the government will take severe measures against traders who practice speculation and who sell expired products. The government had set up a multi-sector working group to ensure that citizens are provided with basic goods and services of a decent quality during the Christmas and New Year period.
The working group, Tonela said, consists of staff from his own ministry, from the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the customs service, and the water and electricity companies.
“We want to ensure that industry, and particularly the food industry, works properly during the festive season”, the Minister said. “We are interacting with the drinks industry, and with the main players in importing and distributing foodstuffs”.
Tonela said his ministry has carried out a survey of all the goods available on the Mozambican market, and has concluded that there are no grounds for alarm, since there are sufficient stocks to supply the entire country.
“In terms of goods for the holiday period, I have to say that there are sufficient quantities nationally to supply all consumers”, he said. This did not mean that all the goods were already available in all the provinces. Tonela recognized that there is a shortage of chickens in Inhambane province – but consumers in Inhambane can be supplied out of the 5,000 tonnes of chicken in the neighbouring province of Sofala.