A NUMBER of companies in Zimbabwe are pushing for the Government to
include more goods under import restrictions among them small farm
implements such as undrawn ploughs, consumptive goods such as spirits
and soft drinks and juices as a way of protecting the local industry,
Sunday News has learnt. Although
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Mr Busisa Moyo could not
reveal the companies arguing that this could jeopardise deliberations,
he confirmed that the industry wanted to be protected.
“More companies believe they are able to meet local demand if given time bound and limited support. This is a viable mechanism to create employment and increase capacity utilisation. We are in consultation and would not want to pre-empt deliberations,” he said.
Industry and company sources said Zimplow which manufacture ox-drawn farm implements also wanted Government to put the equipment under import restrictions. “The company argued that it is even exporting some of its products to countries like Zambia showing that it was able to meet local demand hence there was no need to allow cheap and sub-standard implements into the country,” said an industry source.
He added that beverages companies were also arguing that they were among the biggest employers in the country but their products were being made to openly compete with imports, some as far as from Netherlands.
The companies felt that they could meet local demand while some have diversified and are now brewing some of the beer and spirits which were initially being brewed from outside the country.
Mr Moyo said industry made it clear to the Government that there was no need to import products, which can be produced locally so as to build local manufacturing capacity and allow companies to retool over a period of time.
“We will never advocate for imports but only when something is not produced locally and there is no capacity. There is no need really to create that restriction except that now we have shortages of nostro balances. Do we use those nostro balances for non-essentials or we prioritise and bring in the things that we are manufacturing — raw materials? That’s what we need to direct our money to, little resources, to the most critical . . . ,” he said.
Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha said the Government was ready to listen to industry but only if submissions are made.
“The companies haven’t approached us and in the event they do we will scrutinise their request and consider it. It is industry which submits the list (of products to be put under import restrictions) so all those that were put came from them,” he said yesterday.
The ministry placed 36 goods under SI 64 of 2016 and these include bottled water, mayonnaise, salad cream, peanut butter, jams, mahewu, canned fruits, vegetables, pizza, yoghurts, flavoured milks, dairy juice blends, ice creams, cultured milk, cheese, coffee creamers, camphor creams, white petroleum jellies, body creams and plastic pipes.
In addition the list also include plastic pipes and fittings, wheelbarrows, flat rolled products of iron and non-alloy steel and furniture parts of kitchen units.
Meanwhile, Mr Moyo said the country’s cooking oil and soap manufacturers have enough capacity to meet local demand.
Mr Moyo who is also the chief executive officer of United Refineries said: “Capacity in the cooking oil industry remains strong and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has been prioritising the sector in terms of raw material input and plant upgrades and now with command agriculture prospects are bright.”
The Oil Expressers’ Association of Zimbabwe is on record as saying its members have a capacity of over 12 000 tonnes per month of cooking oil while local demand is estimated at 10 000 tonnes per month.
Local cooking oil production has increased to 12,1 million litres from 4,5 million litres against domestic demand of nine to 10 million litres.
Mr Moyo also said most oil expressers and a number of Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) had ventured into soap manufacturing.
“The majority of oil expressers have re-started their soap line and over half a dozen new entrants and SMEs including Acacia are making laundry bars which can be found in wholesale stores,” he said. sunday news