Buy Zimbabwe warns against imports

HARARE - Zimbabwe should immediately adopt a credible local content policy buttressed by an industrial and trade policy that recognises the primacy of agriculture and mining in resuscitating the economy, a local pressure group has said.

Munyaradzi Hwengwere, the Buy Zimbabwe chief executive said the sudden repeal of statutory instrument may have negative consequences.

This was after government last week indefinitely suspended Statutory Instrument 122 to allow companies and individuals with offshore and free funds to import specified basic commodities that are in short supply.

“While being concerned about the potential negative impact of the sudden repeal, Buy Zimbabwe understands the circumstances that have led to this development. Buy Zimbabwe therefore urges stakeholders to be pro-active in developing a long term strategy for industrial development and job creation,” he said.

The local content policy is an industrialisation policy strategy aimed at stimulating the production and consumption of locally produced goods through buttressing existing policy interventions and strategies such as the import management programme

“From many accounts, in many different sectors impacted by the SI 122, there have been increases in capacity utilisation, employment and revenue for the fiscus amongst other positive benefits. The temporary nature of the SI 122 was well known and its conflict with Zimbabwe’s regional and internationally obligations have drawn justifiable criticism,” Hwengere said.

In 2016, government established an import management programme, whose main objective was to assist local industry in its resuscitation process. The regulation of imports was expected to lead to industrial recovery, as it stimulated demand for locally produced goods.

The current price hikes and shortages necessitated government to temporarily open up borders.

Commodities that can now be imported include animal oils and fats (lard, tallow and dripping), baked beans, body creams, bottled water, cement, cereals, cheese, coffee creams, cooking oil, crude soya bean oil, fertiliser, finished steel roofing sheets, wheat flour and ice cream.

Those with free funds can also bring in jams, juice blends, margarine, mayonnaise, packaging materials, peanut butter, pizza base, potato crisps, salad creams, shoe polish, soap, sugar, synthetic hair products, wheel barrows, agrochemicals and stock feeds.

The instrument was not repealed, but amended in response to the on-going situation and government believes it will not destroy local industry as the government has pledged to continue to give manufacturers support through foreign currency allocation. — The Financial Gazette


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