By Alois Vinga
INDUSTRY Minister, Sekai Nzenza has restored licence fees on the importation of all goods under Open General Import category except for grain, maize meal, wheat and flour in a move that could trigger price increases.
The latest details on the new arrangement are enshrined under Statutory Instrument 60 of 2020.
“The following products are added to the Open General Import Licence: Grain; Maize meal, wheat flour.
“However, Notice 2017, published in Statutory Instrument 122 of 2017, is amended by changing the import licence fee for the remaining products under the Open General Import Licence to $150,” reads the instrument.
Commodities which fall under the General Import Licence include: Baked beans; Body creams; Bottled water; Cement; Cereals; Cheese; Coffee creamers; Cooking oil; Crude and refined vegetables oils, soya bean oil and vegetable fats.
The list includes fertilizers; finished steel roofing sheets, Ice cream, Jams, Juice blends, Margarine, Mayonnaise and salad creams.
The import regime comes at a time the country is experiencing reduced industrial productivity which is further prompting the heavy reliance on imported goods.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries chief economist, Tafadzwa Bandama early this year predicted that productivity will dwindle to 27 %.
Capacity utilisation declined by 11.8 % to 36.4% in 2019, down from 48.2% that was recorded in 2018.
Additionally, the country’s business fraternity has since bemoaned the existence of multiple licensing fees saying they are a barrier to the smooth flow of business.
The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce says for one to be able to export from Zimbabwe, there is need for a minimum 99 hours spent on documentary compliance and an additional 88 hours are spent on border administration just on compliance issues.
In terms of export associated costs, US$170 is spent on documentary compliance while US$285 is spent on border administrative compliance.
On the imports side, 81 hours are spent on documentary compliance while 228 hours are spent on border compliance.
Of these, US$150 is spent on documentary compliance while US$562 is spent on border compliance.