By Bernard Chiketo
Quest Motors (Quest)’s assembling plant is facing operational challenges due to central bank’s failure to approve their payments to its Japanese and Chinese kit suppliers for over eight months, the Daily News has learnt.
The company’s operations manager, Carl Fernandez, said the situation was now “critical”.
“We have been facing serious problems with paying for kits for the last eight months. We can’t seem to get our allocation, even though we are in Category One,” he said.
“Despite meeting ministers our pleas fall on deaf ears. The situation is critical. We cannot even access money to pay for kits already in the plant…we cannot even get enough to pay for spare parts,” Fernandez said.
The problems besetting the complete knock-down-vehicle-assembly plant comes as the company, which has been operating for more than half a century, is recovering from a decade-long economic crunch and was widening its vehicle’s range.
Quest is currently producing Chinese vehicle models that include Chery Tiggo, Foton and JMC, with franchise deals for Toyota and Suzuki having already been sealed.
It recently added Japan’s Mitsubishi.
The company’s chairman, Gulam Adams, recently told Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa of their struggle to push through their payments and he promised to act on the situation.
Adams told Mnangagwa that due to local banks’ failure to send through their payment requests to their suppliers, “…suppliers are saying they cannot continue supplying us if we are not paying”.
“We are making the transfers but the banks cannot honour our payments on our behalf due to the current cash shortage,” Adams told the VP.
Adams later said the challenges facing the local motor industry saw the country spending over $5,3 billion on car imports since 2009.
Quest is also working at strengthening local industries to raise local inputs to 40 percent as it plans a regional excursion for export markets in the face of low local uptake for its vehicles.
Its director, Tarik Adam, said the company’s biggest impediment has been their importation of every component in their vehicle assembly process, which disqualified them from exporting regionally with discounted duty.
“There is a 40 percent input benchmark for regional States to be eligible to export at a discounted duty,” Adam said.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had not responded to questions on the matter by the time of going to print. Daily News