September 8, 2010

Bread price dropped after violent price protests

Mozambique would subsidise bread prices and curb government spending to pacify the population after food riots brought the country's capital to a stand still last week, a government minister has announced. “The measures immediately effective include the previous prices of bread through the introduction of a subsidy,” Planning and Development Minister Aiuba Cuereneia said.

Following an SMS and email campaign inciting people to protest bread price increases of around 22 percent on September 1, Mozambicans took to the streets at the beginning of September. Thirteen people were killed and 175 injured during skirmishes between police and demonstrators predominantly in the capital Maputo and nearby city Matola. Protesters blocked major routes into the capital with burning tyres and looted 66 stores while 286 people were arrested, police said. Damage provisionally amounted to around R24-million. Unrests also broke out in Chimoio in central Mozambique, while smaller efforts were crushed by police in Beira, Tete and Nampula cities.

The government's announcement follows an initial statement that price increases were “irreversible”. Furthermore concessions include a 7,5 percent decrease in the price of rice and the temporary suspension of sugar importation, said Cuereneia. Mozambique would also freeze the salaries of high-ranking government officials until evaluations had been completed, and the salaries of the CEOs of public companies or majority government-owned companies would be frozen as well, he said. “The indicated salaries will be frozen to obtain savings for later reorientation for necessary subsidisations,” said Cuereneia.
Public spending would also be curbed to raise funds for subsidisation, he added. These included the limitation of domestic and international air travel by public officials and the “redefinition of the right to use first class”, as well as of fuel and communication subsidies for public officials. (Sapa)

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