PRICES of some imported goods have gone up in most retail shops in the past three months, amid indications that demand and consumption of locally produced goods has also significantly increased over the same period.
Analysts have attributed the trend to the introduction of the Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 in July this year. The Government introduced SI 64 to restrict the importation of specified products, in a bid to boost production by local industries.
A snap survey conducted by Sunday News shows that some “unscrupulous” retailers in Bulawayo have increased prices of imported goods, while prices of locally manufactured goods have remained generally static.
Prices of goods such as milk, baked beans, mayonnaise, dish washing liquid, washing powders and detergents have gone up since the introduction of SI64. A 410 grammes of imported baked beans which cost 90 cents prior to SI64 now costs around $1,10 while locally manufactured baked beans costs around 79 cents. A 500 gramme pack of Ariel washing powder which cost $1,15 has gone up to $1,35, while the same quantity of locally manufactured washing powder has remained at $1.20.
Crosse and Blackwell Mayonnaise (375) which cost $1,25 cents has gone up to $1,40 compared to 400 grammes of locally manufactured Rabroy which costs $1,15. Imported First Choice Tetra Pack milk now cost $1,35 but before the import restrictions was at $1,25 while the same quantity of locally produced milk costs $1,30.
A report by Buy-Zimbabwe has shown that demand for local goods has increased since the introduction of SI64 while the volume of imports declined by eight percent as at July after the introduction of import restrictions.
“There was a sharp decrease in June and July, and this can be attributed to the various statutory instruments that discouraged imports, including the SI 64 of 2016. Imports declined by eight percent from $429 million to $394 million between June and July 2016 following the introduction of the SI64 compared to the same period in 2015 where import increased by 2 percent,” reads part of the report.
Buy-Zimbabwe chief executive officer Mr Munyaradzi Hwengwere said the increase of prices on imported products was as a result of import restrictions that has seen demand for locally manufactured goods going up. Mr Hwengwere said local industry should take advantage of the increase in demand for local goods as an opportunity to tap into corporate supply chains. He said retailers who were increasing prices of goods in reaction to SI64 risked pricing themselves out of business.
“Anyone increasing prices at this moment is a foolish business person and does not deserve space in the business sector. They will price themselves out of business because there is competition. This is a good message to Zimbabweans that they should not trust foreign goods. The increase in demand of local goods is an opportunity for local business and we expect them to take advantage,” he said.
Industry and Commerce Deputy Minister Chiratidzo Mabuwa told Sunday News yesterday that the developments were a clear sign that SI64 was effectively serving its purpose.
“The presence of local goods on shop shelves is encouraging. It’s exactly what we were aiming at, to stimulate local industry.
This is advantage for local companies who were facing unfair competition from imported products,” she said.
Mr Hwengere added that notwithstanding the appropriateness of SI64 in stimulating industrial growth, there was a need for a more sustainable policy to protect local manufacturers.
“Going forward we need to look into a local content policy. This approach has been successful in many other countries that include Botswana, South Africa, Chile, Brazil, USA etc. It is compatible with WTO (World Trade Organisation) provisions and trade protocols; hence it minimises the probability of trade retaliation. As Buy Zimbabwe we are already working on this together with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce,” he said.
Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) executive director Ms Rose Siyachitema acknowledged that there had been an increase in prices of goods over the past week but refused to pin the increase to SI64 only.
Ms Siyachitema said a number of factors, including increase in fuel prices, have played a role in influencing price adjustments.
“Our research is centred on basic goods and there hasn’t been any exciting increase of prices, we can only talk of 10 cents and 5 cents increase. It should be noted that there are a number of push factors, chief being fuel because most of our goods are transported by road,” she said.
SI64 controls importation of a wide range of goods, including coffee creamers, camphor creams, white petroleum jellies, body lotions, builders’ wares such as wheelbarrows, structures and parts of structures of iron or steel, bridges and bridge sections, lock gates, lattice masts, roof, roof frameworks and doors. sunday news