Govt suspends import duty on selected basics

By Stanley James, Business Editor

The manufacturing industry’s commitment to serve retailers with adequate stocks of commodities has been under the spotlight recently.

Despite local product availability having reached over eighty percent since the inception of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) auction system in mid-2020 and other government interventions, a survey carried out by the ZBC News showed that most retail outlets had limited supplies for commodities such as sugar, cooking oil and mealie-meal.

In response, government has with effect from this Tuesday suspended duty on 15 grocery items for six months.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers President, Mr. Denford Mutashu described the latest interventions as key to the sustainability of economic gains in terms of product availability and fair pricing.

Treasury is just responding to what has been obtaining on the ground whereby most of the basic goods are in short supply. So, as an intervention the move is aimed at propping up availability while ensuring a wide selection of goods in light of competition and the need for industry to also up its game after having accessed forex to retool,” he said.

For Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce Past President, Mr Luxon Zembe, it is all about stakeholder commitment towards ensuring increased availability of goods in the formal retail markets.

“There is a challenge that if all the goods are now in the informal sector then the majority will not get access to the goods at the right pricing models so let’s wait and see what will happen as the government tries to balance the act,” noted mr Zembe.

Treasury has also directed the national revenue collector, ZIMRA, to urgently draft a legal instrument and implementation framework of the duty suspension notice with effect from this Tuesday.