The government has assured the public that the increase in the prices of various commodities is temporary and will not affect their livelihoods beyond the festive season.
The Minister of Trade and Industry Francois Kanimba observed that the seasonal price hike is common during the festive season that pushes demand higher and overstretches supply.
“Generally, as the festive season phases out, prices come down,” he told Business Times yesterday.
Prices of few food commodities have shot up forcing buyers to dig deeper into their pockets to cater for the festive season.
Claver Gatete, the Governor of the Central bank while on a tour of various markets in Kigali in October last year had anticipated such an increment which was expected to normalise by January this year.
A Kigali resident, Joseline Uwamariya, decried that the current price upsurge of products had affected the capacity of consumers to buy enough during the festive season, thereby affecting their purchasing power.
“We were affected by the increment of basic food stuffs whose demand is normally known to be on the rise at this time of the year,” she said.
Claude Rutayisire, a trader noted that prices are expected to come down by the end of this month as suppliers had promised to provide more stocks by the end of this week.
“This is not a very big problem as such and I know within this coming week, additional stocks will be delivered and we expect prices to go down,” he observed.
Experts project increased inflation among foodstuffs that would only marginally affect the low year on year inflation. Official statistics indicate that inflation dropped by 0.37 percent to 7.39 percent in November last year up from 7.76 percent in October the same year.
The Central Bank is optimistic that the increase will not affect the current stable macroeconomics as it is expected to go on for a short period of time.
Commodities such as passion fruits, oranges, peas and pineapples went up by Rwf 100 or more per kilo since the start of December; a likely scenario traders say may remain the same until the end of this month.
However, prices of meat other major commodities such as beans, cassava, groundnuts and sweet potatoes remained stable.
In a mini market survey on Monday, Business Times established that a kilo of passion fruits was selling for between Rwf 1,300 and Rwf 1,500 in Kimironko and Kicukiro markets. The price of mangoes shot up from Rwf 800 to Rwf 1000 a kilo, while that of Irish potatoes increased to Rwf 175 from Rwf 145.
The prices of locally manufactured Kabuye Sugar rose by Rwf 100 to 900 from Rwf 800 while the price of imported sugar shot up to Rwf 1400 per kilo in most supermarkets and shops around the city, despite the government placing a price cap in August 2011 that set Kabuye sugar at Rwf 800 per kilo.
In what is seen as a departure from what government officials told Business Times, most traders claim that the increase may not be as a result of traders cashing in on the festive seasons since prices shot up by the early December, raising concerns that prices may remain at the current levels beyond the festive season unless government intervenes.
“We have been facing a low supply of fruits since December and because suppliers have raised prices, we have no option but to increase prices,” Francoise Uwamahoro, a fruit trader at Kimironko market told Business Times.