Govt mulls tweaking imports restriction policy

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A merchandiser arranges locally made cooking oil at OK First Street branch yesterday

Government is mulling adjusting policy to assist companies and retailers negatively affected by the import restrictions.

BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA

A merchandiser arranges locally made cooking oil at OK First Street branch yesterday
A merchandiser arranges locally made cooking oil at OK First Street branch yesterday

In June, government came up with Statutory Instrument (SI) 64 of 2016 which removed some products from the open general import licence. The importation of such products now requires a permit which costs $30 and issued after satisfying authorities why those products should be imported.

Speaking to NewsDay on the sidelines of a Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) breakfast meeting yesterday in Harare, Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha said they had set up an evaluation and monitoring committee to look at the impact of SI 64 of 2016 on local companies.

“We have set up an evaluation and monitoring committee to look at the impact and once it gets into motion, we will look forward to their (affected companies) recommendations on what to do next. At the moment, I do not have any statistics or any information. What I know is that there could be people out there that could have been affected negatively, so what we need to know is who they are and in what way they will be affected,” Bimha said.

“What we need to do might not be compensation, but it could be some adjustments on policy to assist them so it is something that we can expect this monitoring and evaluation committee can come up with.”

Since the new import regulations in June, companies have warned that they may be forced to lay off workers to mitigate the shocks from SI 64 of 2016 as it was having a direct impact on capital.

Cold Chain Zimbabwe’s Charles Gardiner told Bimha during a question and answer session that his company may be forced to lay off 500 jobs.

The regulations have meant applications for import licences being rejected as they included some of the listed products.

Central bank governor John Mangudya said companies had to focus on imports listed in the first section of the Import Priority List and not second, third or fourth.

He said the reality is “Zimbabwe has been in a liberalised state since 2009 in the adoption of the dollar. Any policies that are put to curb this are not controls but merely an adjustment of the market as the deficit of imports over exports is too high”.

An employee from a local company told NewsDay it was considering job cuts as the regulations have impacted on their operations.

CZR president Denford Mutashu said the policy must not result in shortages or price increments and encouraged further reviews.

“We want industry to run to ensure local production and also in terms of those goods coming from outside, we agree that some of those goods were not necessary. We also agree that on the list (SI 64 of 2016) there are some products that should have not been on the list while there are probably some products that should be on the list. So they need to strike that balance,” Mutashu said.

On the flip side, since the import regulations, CZR statistics have shown an increase of local products on shelves by 20% to 70%, while imported goods decreased to 30% from 50%. Before the implementation of SI 64 of 2016, local products and imported products on the shelves formed 50% each.

8 COMMENTS

  1. I thought since all Zimbabwean Cabinet Ministers, including the President are so educated, they would know that any strategic intervention needs a monitoring and evaluation framework, even before the implementation! Where were our Government Ministers educated, really?

  2. they are making another fatal mistake by backtracking on a very good overdue move. And the “exceptions” will just be loopholes for smuggling by the elite

    • even medical services which can be professionally done in Zimbabwe should be denied to anyone who wishes to have them outside Zimbabwe

  3. Which OK supermarket is that one, here in Masvingo pure drop cooking oil costs $3,39 or $3,20 in some shops.

  4. The biggest problem with our policy formulators is that they are “We know it all” kind of people, consultation does not exist in their vocabulary leading to policy inconsistency. Vanoyeuka bako mvura yatovanaya kare. They are reactive kind of leaders. We need leaders with foresight those who are proactive. Those who can see tomorrow today.

  5. Spottrak has been affected it has laid off employees it can no longer import its basic raw material tyres! here in Mutare

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