VICE President Emmerson Mnangagwa has warned businesses to desist from taking advantage of Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016, which removes several goods from the Open General Import Licence (OGIL), to increase prices.
Following the promulgation of the new import regulations, some businesses had started increasing prices, forcing a rise in the cost of living in the country.
The new regulations prohibit the importation of petroleum jellies, shoe polish, synthetic hair products and foodstuffs such as vegetables, bottled water, coffee creamers, baked beans, peanut butter and yoghurts, among others under the OGIL unless the goods are for self-consumption.
Officially opening the 6th Buy Zimbabwe annual summit here on Thursday evening, Cde Mnangagwa said, Government was implementing SI 64/2016 to protect local industry from an influx of consumer goods the country already has.
“In working towards limiting imports and rolling out the Buy Zimbabwe Campaign, there is need to protect the consumer in terms of the quality, pricing and supply of products, whether they’re finished products or are to be used as raw materials.
“We therefore need to make sure that as we call for protection against imports, or call for the creation of statutes that compel individuals and entities to buy local goods, we’re not indirectly authorising rampant price increases at a time when all economic indicators point to a need for price reduction,” said VP Mnangagwa.
Following the liberalisation of the economy in February 2009, Zimbabwe has seen an influx of imported goods mainly basic commodities, clothes and footwear products.
“There is also a need for an evaluative mechanism that gauges the benefits accruing from import substitution that says, for example, ‘when imports are reduced, my volumes will grow this much, I’ll be able to add so many jobs’. The number of new companies opened and the number of new jobs created, as a result of the said initiatives will then have to be tracked and reported on, and corrective measures taken to steer the economy in the right direction,” VP Mnangagwa said.
The Vice President also said it was imperative to raise capacity utilisation and increase exports.
He said there is a need to develop a model that looks at major costs and prices, in order to come up with a range within which costs and prices may fall as guided by regional benchmarks, and at the same time being sensitive to the size and state of the economy.
“Industry must also appreciate the important role that competition plays in a globalised economy. We risk closing ourselves out of the global market, and fail to develop and learn in line with global trends. Moreover, we need to appreciate that restrictions aren’t sustainable, and that in the long term, pressure from trading partners will always force us to open up our markets again,” he said.
More worrying for Government, he said, is the fact that the country continues to have foreign products taking significant shelf space in supermarkets and other retail outlets.
He said as a way of increasing industrial productivity, there was a need to eliminate, where possible, all unnecessary imports by having them produced locally.
VP Mnangagwa also noted the need to continue reforming Zimbabwe’s labour laws and enhance productivity.
“We need to ensure that our tariff regime is responsive enough to the needs of local production. On the legislative side, and pursuant to ensuring the country’s economic recovery, Government is at advanced stages in facilitating the harmonisation of labour laws to facilitate the ease of doing business in the country,” he said.
He said local investors should take advantage of such opportunities to form their own companies, to procure local merchandise for processing, value addition and beneficiation.
The buy local message, VP Mnangagwa said, is a call to members of the public, the private sector and other stakeholders to buy local products and services to grow domestic businesses thereby stimulating economic growth and job creation.
In order to create jobs, he said, there was need to spend money on the acquisition of raw materials that would go into the production of goods instead of buying finished products.
VP Mnangagwa said integrity and a positive value system that respects the benefits of honesty and hard work were required for Buy Zimbabwe initative to succeed.
The Vice President said the previous edition of the Buy Zimbabwe summit made several resolutions among them consolidating local procurement to enhance production and propel economic growth.
He said this required Government to take a leading role, and support business through policies that promote local manufacturing, consumption of products produced in the country while limiting imports.
“Pursuant to this, it’s my sincere hope that local participation in public sector projects will be enhanced through sustainable local procurement linkages, especially in public development projects. I’m therefore, eagerly looking forward to the launch of the Local Content Index, an index that will measure the extent to which the Government, public entities, private entities and other consumers buy locally,” said VP Mnangagwa.
He said for the Buy Zimbabwe initiative to succeed, it needed integrity and a positive value system that respects the benefits of honesty and hard work: “I also want to emphasise that those found on the wrong side of the law will be ruthlessly punished, irrespective of their position or standing in society. Furthermore, I want to appeal to those intending or about to commit corruption to desist from doing so. Remember that corruption doesn’t pay because the long arm of the law will eventually catch up with you. We must now walk the talk against corruption, and ensure that the scourge is uprooted from our midst,” VP Mnangagwa said. herald