The call by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa on Monday for business to increase capacity utilisation could not have come at a better time given the rate at which the country has been reduced into a dumping ground for cheap imports.
It goes without saying that these cheap imports flooding our markets have had a negative impact on the country’s manufacturing sector now in the doldrums. This has also meant that local companies have had to downscale their operations.
Addressing captains of industry at the Zimra Taxpayers’ Appreciation Day commemorations in Harare, Chinamasa said this “madness” had to be brought to a halt so that Zimbabwe’s industry can secure a new lease of life for the good of the economy and, consequently, the well-being of Zimbabweans.
Although the cheap imports have been like a jackpot for the majority of ordinary people without much income to spend given their affordability, the long-term effects on the economy have been dire and if action is not taken sooner rather than later, our economy will remain in trouble.
Indeed, there is need for increased industrial capacity utilisation which will, as a result, boost production and get industry going again.
It is said that this scourge has affected every sector of the country’s economy including vehicle manufacturing, the sugar industry, poultry sector as well as agricultural produce.
Government policy must address the challenges being faced by Zimbabwean manufacturers struggling with the issue of liquidity and competition from the cheaper imports as a matter of urgency. Industry has been under a lot of stress over the last few years and has been contracting due to several pressures.
Today, the country’s clothing and textiles industries are nothing to write home about and this has to be brought to a halt.
The country’s second largest city, Bulawayo, has virtually ground to a halt as companies continue to close.
While the bad economic policies adopted over the years are partly to blame for the quagmire the country finds itself in, the imports have exacerbated the situation.
The Look East policy that government adopted in recent years must be reviewed so that it can also be of benefit to the country.
As it stands, China has been the biggest beneficiary from the trade imbalance that currently exists between the two countries in the form of cheap raw materials.
The sooner we put a stop to the cheap imports and get industry working again, the better for the country. Through the revival of industries, much-needed jobs will be created.
Government must act on this scourge before further damage is inflicted on the remaining few operational companies.