Cross border traders hail basic commodities duty removal – says move a boost for SMEs

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By Alois Vinga

ZIMBABWE Cross Border Traders Association (ZCBTA) has commended authorities for being “pro-poor” by scrapping duty on basic commodities imports saying the timely move will dilute rampant indiscipline by local profiteering corporates.

This comes after Finance Minister, Mthuli Ncube enacted a raft of measures which include the suspension of duty payments on all basic commodities in a bid to stabilise the ZWL.

Government has accused businesses of sabotaging its efforts through forward pricing in anticipation of unforeseen exchange rate depreciation.

Some sections of industry have since castigated the government for adopting an anti-productivity strategy after opening the borders warning the initiatives will choke employment and economic growth.

In an update Tuesday, ZCBTA secretary general, Augustine Tawanda hailed the latest policy underscoring that given the circumstances, it is the way to go.

He said the scrapping of duty will protect ordinary citizens and other vulnerable groups in Zimbabwe from negative impacts of activities driven by “corporate indiscipline and primitive capital accumulation on the part of some players in commerce and industry who charge hefty premiums to hedge against erosion of the RTGS thereby inflating prices unnecessarily.”

“The move creates room for SMEs and other non –traditional economic actors to increase competition thereby limiting scope for profiteering.

“The Ministry responsible for SMEs should therefore compliment this intervention by facilitating greater collaboration between SME producers and cross border traders so that the forex in the hands of cross border traders can be deployed in such a way as to increase the productive capacity of SME,” he said.

Tawanda said there is also a need for mounting robust public awareness campaigns targeting people who do not import on the parallel market purely for the purpose of storing value when the digital gold instrument can equally do the job.

“The general public must know that it is this action which puts unnecessary pressure on the local currency while on the contrary using gold coins strengthens the local currency,” he added.