The Zimbabwe government has with immediate effect partially suspended regulations banning imports to allow the general public to bring in goods without licenses in abid to address the shortages of basic commodities and ease pressure on demand for foreign currency on the central bank.
The southern African country is in the throes of a dollar shortages while the move to seperate United States dollar denominated accounts from locally funded accounts led to an increase in foreign currency demand in the black market and a spike in prices.
In 2016, the government banned a range of products from the import list to protect the local industry under SI64, which was later replaced by the SI122 of 2017. The ban is seen hitting the local manufacturers hard, despite government maintaining duty on the imports.
Among the 31 commodities which can now be imported without licenses and limit on quantities into the country is cement, bottled water, sugar, flour, coffee creamers, fertilizers,
cooking oil, body creams, crude soya bean oil, animal oils, cereals, packaging materials, cheese and pizza base.
Addressing a press conference after a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the partial lifting of the ban was meant to ensure availability of of basic commodities ahead of the festive season and ease demand on foreign currency.
“Accordingly as a way forward, Cabinet resolved .. that the minister of Industry and Commerce temporarily amends Statutory Instrument 122 of 2017 to allow both companies and individuals with offshore funds and free funds to import specified basic commodities currently in short supply pending the return to normalcy in buying patterns of the public and adequate restocking by manufacturers,” she said.
Mutsvangwa said anyone with free funds could import the goods.
The SI 64 has helped the country save $2 billion according to reports.