Millers Urge Re-imposition Of Duty On Cereal To Protect Local Industry

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By Staff Reporter

ZIMBABWEAN millers have called on government to reinstate import duty on maize meal and flour to protect the country’s milling industry now threatened by the flooding of cereal imports into the country.

This follows the May gazetting of Statutory Instrument No 119 of 2020 which suspended import duty on Maize Meal (Commodity Code:1103.13.20) and Wheat Flour (Commodity Code:1101.00.10) and Commodity Code: 1101.00.20).

The policy slant was aimed at ensuring adequate maize-meal and bread-flour supplies on the market at that particular time after the national grain agent GMB experienced challenges in mobilising maize and wheat imports due to Covid-19 lockdown related difficulties.

This was meant to bring adequate maize-meal and bread-flour supplies on the market at that particular time.

Millers have, since April this year, imported 148,000MT of wheat and +160,000MT of maize.

According to a statement by the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ), the milling industry capacity utilisation has sunk to as low as -20% due to flooding of imported maize-meal and wheat flour.

“Consequently, production of maize and wheat bran (key ingredient in the production of stockfeed) has also diminished.

“Malawi and Zambia have banned the exports of bran, leaving local stock feed manufacturers in short supply.”

GMAZ feels the “development has potential to trigger price increase of stock feeds, as supply will be dwarfed by demand”.

Said the cereal processors, “This will inevitably, see prices of meat and dairy increase.”

In efforts to enhance national food security and provide viability in the grain milling and livestock value chains, GMAZ called for the abandonment of the legal instrument and for authorities to impose duty maize meal and flour.

“SI 119 of 2020 must not be renewed and import duty of 40% and surtax of 40% be imposed on maize meal (Commodity Code:1103.13.20) and flour (Commodity Code:1101.00.10 and Commodity Code: 1101.00.20),” said GMAZ.

“The amount of imported maize meal and flour must be capped in order to provide market space for local millers.

“Permits issued under the Control of Goods Act must be capped at 10,000 metric tonnes per month, policed thoroughly and all smuggled imported maize-meal and flour curtailed.”

The millers group said members have imported maize stock of circa 45,000 metric tonnes to date.

Said the group, “However, the continued importation of maize-meal is discouraging as bankers and traders fear that offtake of the maize will be poor and the entire venture will be unviable.

“The need to preserve jobs in the milling sector by protecting local market for local millers is important.”