Govt clears way for ba­sic im­ports

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - FRONT PAGE - Kuda Bwititi Chief Re­porter

PRES­I­DENT Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa’s ad­min­is­tra­tion has di­rected the Zim­babwe Rev­enue Author­ity to im­me­di­ately come up with a spe­cial ar­range­ment through which com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als with free funds can im­port ba­sic com­modi­ties, while the en­abling le­gal in­stru­ment to sup­port the ur­gent ar­range­ment is be­ing fi­nalised.

On Tues­day, Cab­i­net in­def­i­nitely sus­pended Statu­tory In­stru­ment 122 of 2017, which — among other pro­vi­sions — re­stricted im­ports of ba­sic com­modi­ties that are or­di­nar­ily man­u­fac­tured lo­cally.

Cap­tains of in­dus­try fear that the in­ter­ven­tion ex­poses them to com­pe­ti­tion from cheap im­ports.

The in­abil­ity of lo­cal firms to sup­ply the mar­ket, which re­sulted in stock-outs and panic buy­ing by con­sumers, saw Govern­ment lift­ing im­port re­stric­tions.

In­dus­try and Com­merce Min­is­ter Man­gal­iso Ndlovu told The Sun­day Mail that Govern­ment had in­structed Zimra to al­low the im­ports while a le­gal in­stru­ment was be­ing drafted.

“The (At­tor­ney-Gen­eral) is cur­rently seized with com­ing up with the leg­is­la­tion which will be out any

time soon. But what we have said is that be­fore the law is in place, peo­ple are still free to im­port the spec­i­fied goods un­der the Open Gen­eral Im­port Li­cence,” said Min­is­ter Ndlovu.

In a let­ter to Zimra Com­mis­sioner-Gen­eral Ms Faith Mazanhi on Fri­day, Sec­re­tary for In­dus­try Mrs Abi­gail Shon­hiwa wrote: “... note that the min­istry has since lodged the draft amend­ment in­stru­ment with the At­tor­ney-Gen­eral for clear­ance be­fore gazetting.

“We un­der­stand that some mem­bers of the pub­lic and cor­po­rates had al­ready crossed the bor­der to pur­chase some of the prod­ucts that are now on OGIL ( Open Gen­eral Im­port Li­cence). We are re­quest­ing Zimra to fa­cil­i­tate im­porters with pas­sage while we wait for the gazetting.”

Ms Mazanhi told The Sun­day Mail yes­ter­day that the tax body had taken note of the di­rec­tive.

“We ac­knowl­edge re­ceipt of the let­ter, so we want to ad­vise the pub­lic that we will com­ply with Govern­ment’s di­rec­tive. Peo­ple should, how­ever, un­der­stand that they need to pay the nor­mal duty for im­ported goods in line with the spec­i­fied re­bate,” she said.

Min­is­ter Ndlovu said Govern­ment would not throw in­dus­try un­der the bus as the in­ter­ven­tion was tem­po­rary.

“We are mind­ful of the con­cerns of in­dus­try and I have been reg­u­larly meet­ing with them ... What is im­por­tant is that this pol­icy is tem­po­rary and it has come into ef­fect to pro­tect the gen­eral pub­lic who were suf­fer­ing be­cause of the short­ages and spec­u­la­tive ten­den­cies by those who were charg­ing out­ra­geous amounts.

“We are very ap­pre­cia­tive of the progress be­ing made by some of our in­dus­tries which are per­form­ing well in a tough en­vi­ron­ment. What is im­por­tant to note is that pro­duc­tion by our in­dus­tries has not gone down, it is the de­mand for goods that has gone up.

“We had to come up with this in­ter­ven­tion in light of the im­mi­nent fes­tive sea­son where de­mand for goods is very high. Go­ing for­ward, we will con­tinue to re­view the sit­u­a­tion and we will con­tinue to work with our lo­cal in­dus­tries to come up with so­lu­tions that ben­e­fit ev­ery­one.”

A new in­dus­trial pol­icy that is be­ing fine-tuned to align it with the as­pi­ra­tional goals of Govern­ment’s in­terim eco­nomic blue­print, the Tran­si­tional Sta­bil­i­sa­tion Pro­gramme, will be launched by yearend.

“We are in the process of fine-tun­ing the pol­icy so that it is in line with the Tran­si­tional Sta­bil­i­sa­tion Pro­gramme, oth­er­wise, it would have been launched by now.

“Within the frame­work of our in­dus­trial pol­icy, there is also the Lo­cal Con­tent Pol­icy, which is al­ready in place and Govern­ment in­sti­tu­tions, lo­cal busi­ness and the pub­lic in gen­eral need to un­der- stand it to know what role they can ap­ply to pro­mote lo­cal brands,” Min­is­ter Ndlovu said.

Oil Ex­pressers As­so­ci­a­tion of Zim­babwe pres­i­dent and United Re­finer­ies Lim­ited chief ex­ec­u­tive Mr Bu­sisa Moyo said a pol­icy to pro­mote lo­cal prod­ucts was the way to go. “We need to strengthen Buy Zim­babwe which is where we were be­fore this new de­vel­op­ment. I hope they mean what they are say­ing that it is tem­po­rary.

“We also doubt that the im­porters and traders are go­ing to be charg­ing in lo­cal cur­rency. We were not charg­ing in forex be­cause we were ex­tend­ing good­will to­wards the re­la­tion­ship we had with Govern­ment,” he said.

Com­modi­ties that can now be im­ported through the open gen­eral im­port li­cence in­clude an­i­mal oils and fats, baked beans, body creams, bot­tled wa­ter, ce­ment, ce­re­als, cheese, cof­fee creams, cook­ing oil, crude soya bean oil, fer­tiliser, fin­ished steel roofing sheets, wheat flour and ice cream.

Juice blends, jams, mar­garine, may­on­naise, pack­ag­ing ma­te­ri­als, peanut but­ter, pizza base, potato crisps, salad creams, shoe pol­ish, soap, sugar, syn­thetic hair prod­ucts, wheel bar­rows, agro­chem­i­cals and stock feeds are also in­cluded.

Pic­ture: Mem­ory Man­gombe. (See story on Page 2)

First Lady Aux­il­lia Mnan­gagwa, flanked by Women’s Af­fairs, Com­mu­nity, Small and Medium En­ter­prises De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Sithem­biso Ny­oni (left) and Se­nate Pres­i­dent Cde Ma­bel Chi­nomona, hands over small grain seed to Mrs Mai­ness Line dur­ing In­ter­na­tional Ru­ral Women’s Day cel­e­bra­tions in Mbire yes­ter­day. —

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