STATEMENT FOR THE HON. MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND BROADACSTING SERVICES AND CHIEF GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON ON MEALIE MEAL PRICES
Government wishes to express great concern over the high price of mealie meal which is reported to have reached K150 for 25kg bag of breakfast and ZML120 for a 25kg bag of Roller meal in some cases.
This is a matter of grave concern to the Government and this morning, the Acting President, Mrs Inonge Mutukwa Wina summoned the Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Michael Katambo.
Government has resolved the following:
1. Government will not stand by and watch the staple food go out of reach of ordinary Zambians.
2. The Acting President has instructed the Minister of Agriculture to immediately arrest the price distortions in the market, for example the price of a 25kg bag of breakfast is selling at 150 in Sioma in Western province and similarly at 150 in Lusaka and the Copperbelt. This is a clear case of price distortion by unscrupulous retailers who wish to enjoy abnormal profits at the expense of ordinary Zambians. You would expect the price of mealie meal to be cheaper in Lusaka and the Copperblet because that is where milling plants are located.
The average selling price by millers to retailers is between ZMK115 to ZMK120 only, while for rollermeal the millers are selling to retailers at between ZMK80 to ZMK90.
Hon Katambo has been instructed to urgently meet major retail outlets to address the price distortions.
Government is also aware of price distortions in the maize buying market. While the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) buy-in price is ZMK110 per 50Kg of maize, the private sector price is as high as ZMK170 per 50kg bag of Maize. This too is clear distortion because historically the price difference between FRA and the private sector has never been more than ZMK10 per bag. However, this year the difference is as high as ZMK60.
Once again Hon. Katambo will today meet with manufacturers of livestock feed to arrest the price distortion in the maize buying market. Our information is that what is driving the high maize buying price in the private sector are the 3 major manufacturers of livestock feed who are procuring maize at exorbitant prices, to make stock feed cake for export, at the expense of ordinary Zambians.
3. Government has instructed the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission to render a report to Government on these price distortions within 24hrs.
4. The Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Katambo is expected to conclude these interventions by Government to stabilize the price of Mealie meal and make the staple food affordable to ordinary Zambians in the next few days.
The Government wishes to reassure the nation that while the country was impacted by drought and floods in some areas, the country is food secure and Government will do everything possible to ensure that it remains so and that no Zambian should die from hunger.
Hon. Dora Siliya, MP
MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND BROADCASTING SERVICES AND CHIEF GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON
22nd August, 2019