By CHENGETO CHIDI
Government will soon be issuing out coupons for maize meal subsidies to the less privileged and vulnerable families after increasing the price of roller meal from $50 to $70.
Addressing the media during a post cabinet press briefing Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said modalities were being put in place to ensure vulnerable groups access cheap mealie meal.
“We are aware of the people who need that subsidy and what Ministry of Finance together with Ministry of Labour and Social Services are doing now is coming with databases and working as quickly as possible that coupons will then be sent to all the families who will then be buying maize at a subsidised price, “she said.
This comes after government reviewed upwards the price of subsidized mealie meal saying black market barons were taking advantage of the difference in market price and the subsidies.
“In view of this the government is left with no choice but to review upwards to bring the subsidised price to market price of 70 and in so doing is too prompt, “she said.
Fears are bound that these coupons will also end in the black market and create more opportunities for the barons to make money, but Mutsvangwa said this is not unique to Zimbabwe.
“This is what happens in most countries, in December 2019 government introduced a roller meal subsidy which was pegged at ZWL50 per 10kg bag in order to protect the vulnerable groups, however the wide gap between the market and subsidised price has created undesirable arbitrage opportunities for unscrupulous players resulting in the market and supply distortions, “Mutsvangwa said.
The coupon scheme will cover all districts allowing vulnerable groups will be able to purchase maize at the subsidised price
“We have the data, it is a question of going through all the districts and getting all those people who are vulnerable and who will certainly need that subsidy, “she said.
The cabinet expects the initiative to be underway in no time and this comes at a time when some districts are facing severe floods
“A targeted coupon scheme for the vulnerable is in the offing with the compilation of the database at an advanced stage and this should be done as soon as possible, ” Mutsvangwa said, “the scheme will be rolled out in a few weeks.”