THE Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) has urged government to tackle smuggling at legal and illegal ports of entry, as it is now threatening the viability of formal businesses and reversing the gains posted by import restrictions.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Last year, government gazetted Statutory Instrument (SI) 64 of 2016, which removed goods that have local equivalents from the open general import licence requiring a licence, for the importation of such products after convincing authorities why the licences should be granted.
Speaking at the official opening of the 24-hour retail chain Broadway Spar on Wednesday in Bulawayo CZR president, Denford Mutashu, said government should tackle smuggling of goods in the country, as it was threatening viability of formal businesses.
However, Mutashu said the interventions by government were under threat as smuggled goods were being sold at undesignated places and fetching some unimaginable prices on the market, thereby dwarfing local manufacturers.
“This has also seen the rise and growth of illegal tuckshops and unregulated trading businesses. This has also had a net effect of not only exporting jobs but haemorrhaging the country of the much needed foreign currency and threatening the gains posted by SI 64 where in the manufacturing industry has noticed and realised capacity utilisation rise from around 36% to the current 47%,” Mutashu said.
“Even though there is marked rise but we are still not happy with that. We hope that actually it translates into a bigger margin probably by year-end we need to be speaking about figures of more than 65%, because ultimately when we say we are closing the borders or we are restricting inflow of products from outside the country, there is need that the local manufacturing industry has to be vibrant.
“But its vibrancy is determined by the support it gets from the government and financial services sector, he said.
Mutashu said the financial services sector required constant reforms, as businesses were struggling to get loans from banks for capital investment.
“There is currently more locally manufactured goods in formal retailers and less imports, but the reverse is true with informal retailers,” he said.
Broadway Main Spar, is situated along Fife Street between 5th and 6th Avenues in the city centre. The retail firm has also relocated its operations from Joshua Nkomo Street and 6th Avenue to the new offices.
Broadway Spar proprietor, Vupenyu Hove told NewsDay that they invested in excess of $100 000 into the project, creating 60 jobs.
He said in future they want to open more branches in other cities outside Bulawayo.