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Govt weighs between imports ban, tariff hike

by Staff reporter
11 Jul 2016 at 13:58hrs | Views
Government is in the process of evaluating what would work better for the country between tariff increases and import restrictions, ministry of Industry and Commerce permanent secretary Abigail Shonhiwa told a Buy Zimbabwe traders summit here last week.

Shonhiwa said they have noted with concern that there is an influx of cheap commodities in the country—with some goods such as wheelbarrows landing at the border at ridiculously low prices so much that calculating duty on them would not make their prices anymore competitive

Shonhiwa said wheelbarrows were arriving at the border at $1,98.

"A look at what has been coming in has been a revelation, it's not only the quantity of goods that are coming in but also how much these items per unit are landing at our border before duty.

"I tell you I saw an invoice for a wheelbarrow for $1.98, this is the kind of thing that we are dealing with.

"The other prices are ridiculous, how do you compete with that," Shonhiwa said.

"How do you compete with a wheel barrow that is $2 or that is $5."

"I know there has been an argument that why don't we use increase tariffs. I think you also know that at almost every budget we have increased tariffs so whilst we measure their effectiveness and how easy it is to police them we are also looking at trying to control movement of goods quantitatively," Shonhiwa said.

Shonhiwa said special clearances for the importation of the restricted commodities would also help appraise government on who is importing what and in what quantities.

She said ultimately, government was intent on stopping the country from being a total retail economy by giving policy space to industry to start manufacturing and stop US dollar flight.

"We have been using this tool (import restrictions) over a period of time with the aim of giving policy space to local manufacturers," Shonhiwa said.

She said the country was also particularly being targeted by other countries because it was trading with hard currency which is a much sought after reserve currency by most countries.

"In the final analysis goods are being brought to Zimbabwe to get the greenback. That is a fact," Shonhiwa said.

Last month, government evoked Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 (SI 64) to ban the importation of coffee creamers (Cremora), Camphor creams, white petroleum jellies and body creams.

Other basic products on the list include baked beans and potato crisps, cereals, bottled water, mayonnaise, salad cream, peanut butter, jams, maheu, canned fruits and vegetables, pizza base, yoghurts, flavoured milks, dairy juice blends, ice-creams, cultured milk and cheese.

SI 64 also controls importation of second-hand tyres, urea and ammonium nitrate fertilisers, tile adhesives and tylon, shoe polish and synthetic hair products.

Goods categorised as builder-ware products including wheelbarrows (flat pan and concrete pan wheelbarrows), roofing frameworks, pillars, columns, balustrade, shutters, towers, masts, roofs and roofing framework are also part of the restricted list.

Flash doors, beds, wardrobes, bedroom and dining room suites, office furniture and specified woven fabrics of cotton were restricted.

Source - dailynews