ZIMBABWE’S business leaders want government to suspend the Statutory Instrument (SI)22, which is meant to protect local industry from cheap and non-essential imports, to counter the growing shortages of commodities.
Government promulgated SI64 in 2016 as a measure to limit the inflow of imports in a bid to grow local industry before consolidating it to SI22 last year.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) chief executive Christopher Mugaga said government must revoke the SI22 that prevents the importation of certain goods in the country to reduce pressure on locally manufactured goods which were in short supply, while those available were selling at exorbitant prices.
An official with Zimbabwe Cross-Border Traders Association (ZCBTA), Augustine Tawanda, said the move would stop the disappearance of commodities from shelves.
Among the regulated imports were baked beans and potato crisps, cereals, bottled water, mayonnaise, salad cream, peanut butter, jams, mahewu, canned fruits and vegetables, pizza base, yoghurts, flavoured milks, dairy juice blends, ice creams, cultured milk and cheese.
Other products were second-hand tyres, binder twine, fertilisers (urea and ammonium nitrate), compounds and blends, tile adhesives and tylon, shoe polish, synthetic hair products, flash doors, beds, wardrobes, bedroom and dining room suites, office furniture and tissue wad.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Sifelani Jabangwe said suspending the regulations governing imports could have dire consequences.
“We would reverse all the gains we made since 2016 and companies will start closing and retrenching. Some companies may start having payment backlogs again and it will be blamed on whoever would have changed the policy. Government could again find itself collecting reduced taxes. An impact study must be done first before any change any policy,” he said
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Denford Mutashu is of the view that government needs to put an import management system as complete suspension may decimate local industry.
“The call to suspend SI22 is in many ways than one, treacherous, under the current economic situation. Government needs to realign its focus with the needs of industry and commerce and build a strong industrial base anchoring value chain. All that is required is to have managed imports not complete suspension as it has an effect of decimating and obliterating industry. The long and short of it is finance key industries and all packaging suppliers,” Mutashu said.