Removal of the maize subsidy is a welcome move – MILLERS Association

Mealie Meal

MILLERS Association of Zambia (MAZ) has said the removal of the maize subsidy will not spur mealie-meal price increases immediately.
MAZ president Allan Sakala said in an interview yesterday that removing the subsidy on maize will make the trading environment more competitive as the millers would have the liberty to fix the price of the commodity.
“The removal of the maize subsidy is a welcome move because the trading environment will be more competitive and mealie-meal will become a single-priced commodity,” he said.
He, however, pointed out that the prices of the commodity might go up towards the end of the year as the cost of maize would also shoot up.
Agriculture and Livestock Minister Bob Sichinga said the decision to remove the subsidy on maize was aimed at reducing losses that the Government had incurred in financing millers to enable them to maintain stable prices.
Meanwhile, some organisations are not happy with the decision by the Government to remove subsidies on two essential commodities within a short period of time.
The Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), University of Zambia Students Union (UNZASU), Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and others believe the waiver on subsidies would negatively affect the economy.
CCZ secretary general Suzanne Matale said the move would strain the majority of the vulnerable population that was already living in abject poverty.
UNZASU secretary general Mwauluka Sishekanu appealed to the Government to rescind its decision as the less privileged would be more affected while the economy would also be negatively affected.
ZCTU acting president Chishimba Nkole said as the Government tries to improve the economy, it should also be mindful of the situation at household level.
Economist Oliver Saasa said although the move was justifiable, the Government should have withdrawn the subsidies gradually to avoid the shock effects on the populace.
But University of Zambia lecturer Alex Ng’ oma urged Zambians to give Government the benefit of doubt and see whether the removal of the subsidies would yield the intended results.