Lifting of SI 64 commendable

HARARE - The move by government on Tuesday to lift indefinitely the ban on the importation of groceries and other basic commodities with immediate effect could prove to be the solution to the obtaining shortages and price hikes.

Government had, in 2016, promulgated SI 64 as a way of protecting local industry players who had bemoaned the unfair competition presented by imported goods.

However, the mentality of Zimbabwean businesses, who cry for protection without making their products competitive, was not going to last forever.

SI 64 provided basic commodities manufacturers with a monopoly which they misused, ending up forming cartels which could now determine prices and supply at will.

This could probably explain why there have been shortages of late, especially of goods like cooking oil, sugar, soaps among other basics.

The lifting of the ban will obviously ease prices as similar product ranges can be sourced from neighbouring South Africa.

Somehow Zimbabwean industry has no one to blame as they could not take advantage of government protection to enhance capacity and ensure they make their products competitive.

With the opening up of competition, chances are very soon they will be lamenting the lost opportunity which they used to fortify their monopoly over supply of the goods, oblivious of the fact that the law could change one day.

If reports that oil producers, for instance, were receiving their quota of foreign currency allocation from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, and converting these to other uses are correct, then there is every reason to worry over the behaviour of some of our people.

Most have taken advantage of the political situation to profiteer hoping the shortages, price hikes and all ills would be heaped on the government of the day.

Although fuel is a strategic product which may not be wholly put under private control, government should also look into liberalising that sector as this will undoubtedly lead to stabilisation of supplies and prices.

Currently, there are very few people in the sector and the same problem we have seen with oil producers will easily manifest in the sector.

In any case trade liberalisation is the way to go and this will remove monopolies completely.

The bond notes as well have been a catastrophe, leading to the re-emergence of the parallel market for foreign exchange. As such they, like SI 64, must go as a matter of urgency.

Comments (2)

When your child fails at school, just psychologically adopt your neighbour "s kid...It is better... Seriously thought, is the industry responsible for the economic collapse in the country? no. 2...where are the people going to get forex to go and buy cooking oil in Botswana while they are paid in inconvertible RTGS...? The rich have their minds on Christmas...kkkkk...quite unimaginative

mpiza - 25 October 2018

Government must move quickly to liberalise the economy, fuel importation restrictions must be lifted too yesterday not tomorrow, the product must flood the market and naturally prices will go down.

Sinyo - 26 October 2018

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