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Forex shortages threaten Ref-Air

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THE country’s leading manufacturer of polyurethane insulated panels, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (Ref-Air), is facing imminent closure, due to lack of foreign currency to buy raw materials.

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

Speaking during the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries’ roundtable meeting held in Bulawayo last week, Ref-Air managing director Clive Oxden-Willows revealed that foreign currency shortages were a threat to the Bulawayo-headquartered company.

“ . . . we are in manufacturing and we have got potential for big orders but we have got no money. I know that the Ministry of Industry is supporting it — to get forex to get raw materials — but at the moment there is no money. We (are) possible going to run out materials next week and our factory shuts,” Oxden-Willows said.

“I don’t know where the money is; when I spoke to the bank this morning (Wednesday) they said they just have no forex. So that’s probably going to be a first point before we deal with anything because if we get the forex for raw materials then the rest will fall in place.”

Oxden-Willows said they approached their bank over the matter to no avail.

In response, CZI president Sifelani Jabangwe said he will investigate to find out why the company had not been allocated foreign currency for the importation of raw materials.

“What I will be interested in maybe looking at, like we have done for some companies, would be to actually take your case…to find out what’s happening whether there is actually no allocation for you,” Jabangwe said.

“There has been something going on with regards to allocations because the RBZ is prioritising manufacturers, but sometimes somehow that money is finding its way to the retailers who are not manufacturers.”

The manufacturing sector in Zimbabwe is battling for survival as local bank’s nostro accounts, held in foreign countries to facilitate settlement of foreign exchange and trade transactions, have dried up due to internal cash problems.

Ref-Air was established in 1982 and specialises in refrigeration and air-conditioning with a manufacturing facility specialising in design, manufacture and installation of foam injected polyurethane cold and freezer rooms, pre-fabricated buildings and vehicle insulated panelled bodies.

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