Govt gloats over imports ban

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s government said the controversial statutory Instrument 64 (SI 64) of 2016 has helped boost local industry capacity utilisation, a government official has said.

Deputy Industry minister Chiratidzo Mabuwa last week said the legislative piece — which was introduced in June last year restricting importation of locally available basic goods — had started yielding results.

“May I also highlight that the implementation of various Statutory Instruments among them the famous SI 64 of 2016 . . . have played a key role in meeting these objectives.

“The agro-processing sector has generally performed above expectations and $154 million has so far been invested within that sector and edible oil sub-sector has increased capacity utilisation from about 10 percent to an average of 90 percent — this industry has also attracted $60 million in investment,” Mabuwa said.

This follows a recent survey by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries highlighting that the average capacity utilisation for local manufacturers had significantly increased from 34,3 percent in 2015 to 47,4 percent in 2016, on the back of SI 64.

The deputy minister also said the upgrades in utilisation had also created a combined increase in employment from 2 663 to 3 423 workers.

“The cooking oil industry has also witnessed the entrance of new players that have invested to produce edible oils and other related products.

“In addition, the yeast industry that almost closed managed to attract new investment and is now operating at 90 percent capacity utilisation.

“The biscuit manufacturing sector has gone up from 35 to 75 percent. The detergent industry has increased capacity utilisation from 30 to 60 percent, largely as a result of increased investment especially in new technology,” she said.

Mabuwa also pointed out that the personal care products sector had also seen an improvement in capacity utilisation from around 30 to an average of 50 percent, with local personal care manufacturer, Medichem, experiencing an increase in demand of over 300 percent.

“The pharmaceutical sector has witnessed growth from around 30 to now 65 percent.  A variety of drugs are now being produced locally and some players have increased their drug production.

“The furniture sector has also witnessed increases in the production of bedding and related goods, with capacity utilisation improving from 45 percent to the current 70 percent,” the deputy minister said.

She also noted that one of the local furniture companies had also commenced exports of bedding within the region and has increased working hours in order to meet demand for the products.

“Downstream industries such as label and plastic packaging suppliers have also realised positive results from the improvements in the production levels of various companies.

“As a result, capacity utilisation in the plastics packaging industry has increased from 37 percent to 60 percent.  These companies are also investing in new technologies in order to meet the required standards,” she said.

Mabuwa also said following SI 64, new investment in the chemicals and plastic sector totalling around $3,5 million had been realised.

“Nelspot Investments, Pro-plastics and General Belting invested in  a bottle-blowing, PVC and high pressure pump machinery respectively.

“The cement manufacturing industry invested nearly $200 million whilst the dairy sector mobilised a total of $746 000 and out of that, about $520 000 was used to purchase 400 heifers in September 2016 to boost local milk production,” she said.

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