By Enacy Mapakame
Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Mike Bimha has said Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 that controls imports which local industry has capacity to produce, will remain in place as long as there is a need to protect vulnerable firms.
SI 64 was promulgated last year as local industry buckled under competition from low priced and cheap imports, as a measure to restrict the importation of goods that could be manufactured locally, as well as to promote consumption of local goods.
Dr Bimha said the policy had benefited a lot of companies, pointing out that his office was being inundated with applications from manufacturers requesting more products to be added on the list of products that require a licence to import.
In an interview on the sidelines of a Hanawa Super Foods plant tour yesterday, Dr Bimha said the policy would remain in place depending on local industry’s ability to meet local demand.
“There is no tenure for SI 64,” he said. “It varies from product to product, sector to sector; that is why I am saying a report from the evaluation committee will give us information that can help us, to say for this sector, how long can we go because we need facts that are objectively derived.”
Dr Bimha said the regulatory measure had given local industry a lifeline.
“Many local manufacturers had managed to retool and re-equip, with others coming forward for assistance on how they can benefit from the policy,” he said.
“SI 64 is meant to give room to retool and re-equip. You cannot do this in six months or one year.
“It would be ironical for Government to say we are putting up a measure to allow companies to re-tool and re-equip and then only after a year we say we are going to scrap it off, it does not make sense. SI 64 is still here to stay.”
Dr Bimha said that several companies that have benefited from SI 64 and have increased production capacity, created employment, increased market share, as well as improved competitiveness.
Other companies such as Hanawa, Dr Bimha said, came into existence as a result of regulating imports through SI64.
However, there still is rampant smuggling of goods into the country, including those on the SI 64 list.
Dr Bimha said the Government was cognisant of that fact and, therefore, established an inter-ministerial committee to tackle smuggling.
Hanawa managing director Mr Simbarashe Zhou said his company had benefited from SI 64 and called for the regulation to remain effective.
“Implementation of SI 64 was a major boost for us,” he said. “It must stay forever. It will definitely motivate industry development.”
Hanawa is a potato crisps producer.
Mr Zhou said the potatoes required in crisps making were in short supply in the country.
The company, he said, would apply for an import permit to bring in the potatoes from South Africa until its local potato out growers started making deliveries in September. The Chronicle