by Christopher Makaza.
Zimbabwe Cross Border Traders Association (ZCTA) has urged the Government to urgently consider the suspension of Statutory Instrument 64 (SI64) in an effort to address current commodity shortages and price hikes.
This comes barely three days after the ruling party Zanu-PF, appealed to the Government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa to allow Zimbabweans to import basic commodities that were banned two years ago as basic goods continue to disappear from shops.
The SI 64 of 2016 was a statutory instrument introduced by the Zimbabwean Government to amend a previous instrument (1974) on the limitation of the importation of goods into Zimbabwe. Goods such as dairy products, potato crisps, coffee creamers, body lotions and building supplies among others were removed from general import licence.
Addressing the media at a press conference held in Harare today, ZCBTA Secretary General, Augustine Tawanda highlighted that the scrapping of SI64 would go a long way in stabilising prices and improve on the availability of basic commodities.
“Zimbabwe Cross Border Traders Association (ZCTA) urges Government to urgently suspend statutory instrument 64 and relax other duties and taxes governing the commodities in order to make it easier for traders and other travellers to import groceries and the bulk of the much needed basic commodities. This will go a long way in bringing in competition, improving price stability which will ultimately force the situation to transform,” he said.
Tawanda said the 2008 hyper inflationary era was only addressed after cross border traders were allowed to supply groceries and other basic commodities.
“The country`s nationals will recall that at the height of the hyper inflationary era in 2008, the country ran short of basic commodities because Government during that time restricted the importation of such commodities. It was only after relaxation of the commodities imports regulation that cross border traders began to supply groceries and alleviate hunger,” he said.
Government introduced SI64 in an endeavour to protect the local industry which had been affected by the flooding of cheap products from the neighbouring countries especially South Africa. However, the same industry which the Government tries to protect is now sabotaging the economy through illegally hiking prices and removing of basic commodities from shop shelves to create artificial shortages.