The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has licensed Premier Tobacco Auction Floor for the 2016 marketing season which begins on March 30.
BY BUSINESS REPORTER
TIMB spokesperson Isheunesu Moyo yesterday confirmed to NewsDay that Premier had been licensed.
“They have met our requirements for registration this season. Three auction floors Premier, Boka and TSF and 15 other contractors have been licensed. All the registered floors complied with TIMB requirements,” he said.
TIMB had licensed TSF and Boka Tobacco Auction Floor skipping Premier due to the over $500 000 obligations in government and tobacco levies.
The company had obtained the licence last year and promised to clear outstanding obligation by September 2015. It failed to do so.
Early this month, TIMB board chairperson, Monica Chinamasa said Premier had to meet the requirements to be licenced.
“We are not hard masters. We want to work with them harmoniously, but requirements are requirements. They have to be fulfilled,” she said.
Chinamasa said Premier had to put its house in order before March 30 to be licensed.
Information gathered yesterday showed that Premier obtained the licence on the strength of a letter written by a ministry (name supplied) that it was indebted to the auctioneer’s sister company and would pay once funds were available.
“There was no way Premier would have been licensed. This letter was handy and one hopes that it will pay off the outstanding obligation as promised,” the source said.
Industry sources said all auction floors were required to provide an insurance bond or collateral of $500 000 which was introduced after the collapse of Millennium Tobacco in 2012.
Premier chief executive officer Philemon Mangena’s phone went unanswered yesterday.
The licence comes as a relief for Premier as workers had threatened to jump ship over the company’s problems.
“The licence, which has a March 11 2015 date stamp, has been shown to the workers and has been taken to some banks as the company requires working capital to be able to operate efficiently,” an employee said.
The statutory levies owed to TIMB were money that was deducted from growers, but was not forwarded to the regulator. This has serious implications on TIMB’s ability to render adequate service to farmers who would have paid for this service, industry experts said.
Growers pay a levy, which is used to fund the operations of TIMB and Tobacco Research Board. The Tobacco levy is paid by buyers and it is supposed to be remitted to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority.