Business people and academics in the Midlands province have welcomed Government’s decision to scrap SI 122 of 2017 to allow people to import basic commodities saying it will halt the prevailing price hike madness.
The decision to amend SI 122 was reached by Cabinet on Tuesday last week to allow companies and individuals with offshore and free funds to import specified basic commodities that are in short supply due to the speculative behaviour of local retailers and panic buying by consumers.
President of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries Midlands chapter, Dr Tinashe Manzungu, said the move was a welcome development aimed at addressing price hikes and panic buying by customers.
“Considering the current situation prevailing in the country that was a good move by the Government as there was shortage of basic commodities for consumers and most retail shops were now closing down due to price rises from manufacturers. Due to the removal of SI 122 we will start to see shops which were closed reopening as they can now order products from outside the country,” he said.
However, Dr Manzungu also of TM Group of Companies, which is into property development, health and ICT among other portfolios, said the move will impact negatively on the manufacturing sector as they will start to compete with foreign companies.
“There will be loss of jobs of people in the manufacturing sector but this is just an insignificant number as compared to the suffering of consumers and retailers, in fact, the whole nation. Overall, it is a good move by the Government,” he said.
Mr Francis Mhere, a senior lecturer in the economics department at the Midlands State University, said the opening up of borders is the way to go for now.
“It enhances consumption levels at a time of widespread shortages and price hikes in the country. Local firms, which are already generally folding up anyway, stand to suffer as they face stiff competition from imports. Government is likely to benefit, given the current punitive tax regime. Even if it cuts taxes on imports as a way of opening up borders it still collects more because of volumes,” he said.
Commodities that can now be imported include animal oils and fats (lard, tallow and dripping), baked beans, body creams, bottled water, cement, cereals, cheese, coffee creams, cooking oil, crude soyabean oil, fertiliser, finished steel roofing sheets, wheat flour and ice cream.
Those with free funds can also bring in jams, juice blends, margarine, mayonnaise, packaging materials, peanut butter, pizza base, potato crisps, salad creams, shoe polish, soap, sugar, synthetic hair products, wheelbarrows, agrochemicals and stockfeeds.
Government last week said one is required to pay duty for the goods.
“The amending of SI 122 means that listed goods that previously required one to have an import licence no longer require that licence, however you have to pay duty on the goods,” said the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services.