Pres­i­dent backs im­port con­trols Says mea­sures to boost econ­omy

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle - Pros­per Ndlovu Busi­ness Editor

PRES­I­DENT Mu­gabe yes­ter­day backed im­port con­trols un­der Statu­tory In­stru­ment 64 of 2016 say­ing the mea­sures were meant to cor­rect trade im­bal­ance and boost do­mes­tic pro­duc­tion.

Zim­babwe, re­duced to a mar­ket for cheap im­ports over the years, has suf­fered a heavy eco­nomic blow ev­i­denced by the demise of lo­cal firms and loss of jobs, said the Pres­i­dent while ad­dress­ing the na­tion at the Na­tional He­roes Acre in Harare to mark He­roes Day.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing con­cerns over the neg­a­tive state of the econ­omy and the outcry by traders and in­di­vid­u­als, he said the new mea­sures, cou­pled with do­ing busi­ness re­forms that are al­ready un­der­way, were meant to but­tress eco­nomic growth and re­po­si­tion Zim­babwe in the global econ­omy.

“The man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor would be gen­er­ally sta­ble on the back of these mea­sures, which would be re­viewed from time to time. Al­ready some no­table in­vest­ments have been made in edi­ble oils, milk pow­der, drinks and bev­er­ages and cloth­ing and footwear,” said Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe.

The Statu­tory In­stru­ment re­moves 42 prod­ucts from the open gen­eral im­port li­cence, re­strict­ing their im­por­ta­tion to Zim­babwe, after real­i­sa­tion that lo­cal firms have the ca­pac­ity to pro­duce them.

Among the con­trolled prod­ucts are cof­fee cream­ers, cam­phor creams, white petroleum jel­lies, body lo­tions, build­ing and hard­ware ma­te­ri­als, lock gates, lat­tice masts and doors.

Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe fur­ther ex­plained that the S.I. was meant to as­sist growth of lo­cal pro­duc­ers as he quashed pes­simists’ views that the mea­sures would crip­ple busi­nesses op­er­a­tions.

In­dus­try bod­ies such as the Con­fed­er­a­tion of Zim­babwe In­dus­tries (CZI) and the Zim­babwe Na­tional Chamber of Com­merce (ZNCC), have also ap­plauded the im­port re­stric­tions.

The Pres­i­dent be­moaned loss of mar­ket for lo­cal farm pro­duce such as toma­toes and oth­ers, which he said were rot­ting be­cause there was no mar­ket as some con­sumers pre­fer cheap pro­duce from South Africa.

He said im­ports from South Africa, the coun­try’s largest trad­ing part­ner, for in­stance, were cheaper be­cause their cur­rency was weak­en­ing against the strong US dol­lar.

“We see cheap prod­ucts flood­ing our mar­ket. What about our own pro­duc­ers. Do we let them lose or we sup­port them?” he said.

The Pres­i­dent said lo­cal farm­ers were los­ing busi­ness to cheap hor­ti­cul­tural im­ports from South Africa and poul­try prod­ucts from coun­tries such as Brazil.

“We say no. We have a lot of chick­ens here, eggs are plenty and also beef. This is the kind of pro­tec­tion that S.I. 64 seeks to achieve,” he said.

The Pres­i­dent blasted ac­tivists such as con­tro­ver­sial pas­tor Evan Mawarire, who out of ig­no­rance, are in­cit­ing re­volt against the Gov­ern­ment to cause in­sta­bil­ity while de­mand­ing open­ing of bor­ders.

“There is no coun­try in this world that does not pro­tect it­self. All coun­tries do not al­low cheap prod­ucts to dom­i­nate their mar­ket. That is what we call dump­ing and we don’t want dump­ing in our coun­try,” he said draw­ing ap­plause from thou­sands of peo­ple at the shrine.

Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe said im­por­ta­tion of sec­ond hand clothes should be re­stricted as they were sti­fling vi­a­bil­ity of lo­cal cloth­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­nies.

Last week In­dus­try and Com­merce Min­is­ter Cde Mike Bimha vis­ited South Africa for a dis­cus­sion on bi­lat­eral trade and eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion talks where he ap­prised his neigh­bour­ing coun­ter­part, Mr Rob Davies, on the back­ground to the present state of in­dus­try and cir­cum­stances lead­ing to the re­stric­tions.

Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe

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