CZI boss blames government for 9% import bill surge

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By Alois Vinga

CONFEDERATION of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president, Sifelani Jabangwe has blamed government’s policies for a recent 8,8 percent surge in imports adding that the current trend will not sustain local forex reserve stability and jobs creation.

The latest Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe monthly economic review statement revealed that in the month of November 2018, the country’s imports further exceeded exports by 8.88 percent from $143.6 million recorded in October to $157 million.

Speaking to Business on the latest development, Jabangwe said recent policy shifts by government have been detrimental to local industrial growth.

“You will recall that this is the period when government suspended Statutory Instrument 122 which initially had blocked the importation of goods that are not locally manufactured and since then, cheap imports have been flooding the country at the expense of local industry,” he said.

Sifelani said if government did not urgently reverse the decision to suspend the instrument, more companies will be forced out of business.

This, he said, will further condemn many to unemployment as manufacturing firms turn to reducing expenditure on labour in their desperate moments.

Jabangwe said that the previous government’s move to ban imports had managed to suppress the imports bill which has started to increase again.

Economist, Naome Chakanya said the current figures indicate that government has somehow reneged on its promises to reduce the trade deficit and boost local industry.

“With this trend it means that government cannot save enough foreign currency to inject towards social services that benefit the people and this calls for the implementation of policies that support local industry growth as a strategy to limit outflow of large forex volumes,” she said.

According to the RBZ’s monthly review report, merchandise imports registered a 6.2 percent increase, with notable upsurges being recorded for diesel, unleaded petrol and aviation spirit (Jet A1).

Declines were, however, recorded for crude soya bean oil and wheat, during the same month.

The country sourced imports mainly from South Africa constituting 38.4 percent; Singapore, 23.3 percent; Zambia, 9.1 percent; China, 4.5 percent and Mauritius.

The merchandise trade developments resulted in imports exceeding exports.