By Livingstone Marufu
Government will reduce the issuance of import permits after the festive season as demand of some basic commodities is expected to have declined.
This comes after Government allowed shops and individuals with free funds to import basic commodities during the festive season to avert potential shortages.
Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Mike Bimha, expects the demand for basics to significantly decline after the festive season.
“We expect to reduce import permits around January after the demand for essentials has gone down a bit to allow growth of local industry.
During this time of the year, demand for the basic commodities is always high and foreign currency remains a problem hence the need to allow those with free funds to import basic goods during the Christmas period.
We do not want shortages around Christmas, we want people to enjoy their holidays without any disturbances or shortages,” said Dr Bimha.
There were fears that price increases, especially of basic commodities, could rob citizens of a good Christmas holiday that people are expecting due to a new dispensation brought about by the inauguration of pro-active and business minded President, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Manufacturers and retailers recently hiked prices citing shortage of foreign currency, which the new Government promised to solve.
Government has come up with a cocktail of measures to avert potential food shortages during the festive season and early next year.
Government has also set up a special task force and an inter-ministerial committee to investigate retail shops and to ensure the country has sufficient supply of basic commodities at reasonable prices.
The taskforce has since resumed its duties after the new Cabinet was sworn in. The issue of the recent price hikes has since been discussed at all Government levels, which subsequently tasked the ministries of Agriculture, Industry and Commerce, Finance and Economic Planning and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to look into the problem.
The country will continue to gradually roll out additional measures to reduce the country’s exposure to profiteering elements.
The Ministry of Industry and Commerce said it was disturbing to note that some companies were withholding inputs under the guise of foreign currency shortages and it was unacceptable for firms to withhold goods after receiving foreign currency allocations from Government.
More so, Government, through the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development, is drafting a Local Content Requirements Framework to buttress the Import Management Programme.
Promotion of locally produced goods is expected to offer transitional stimulation and development of opportunities for local industry value and supply chains, already beginning to benefit from investment into new production and product lines.
Government is working on an incentive framework that strengthens the backward and forward linkages between manufacturing and other sectors, such as agriculture.
These business linkages include contract farming for soya beans, cotton, and maize. The production of raw materials locally will help alleviate shortages of inputs being experienced industry wide, and also exerting pressure on the import bill. The Herald