Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter—
STATUTORY Instrument 64, which was promulgated last year, will now be scrapped as it has achieved its objectives and targets of boosting industrial capacity utilisation, stimulating retooling and investment into new technologies in industries, a Cabinet minister has said.This comes as Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha conceded that SI64 also ran into challenges that can only be addressed through setting it aside.
SI64 restricted the importation of certain goods that were being produced locally, as a way of refocusing attention on increasing production in local industries to create employment.
Minister Bimha said Government would now move away from enforcing SI64 and come up with other means to ensure industries continued to gain from the achievements it brought.
He said the strategy would now be to adopt smart measures like promotion of local content policy to ward off some of the challenges that were encountered during the implementation of SI64 since July last year.
Minister Bimha said this during a workshop attended by heads of parastatals, State entities, legislators, captains of industry and other stakeholders aimed at reviewing the impact of the Government’s economic blue-print, Zim-Asset.
He said while SI64 was a huge success, some of the challenges the country encountered were retaliatory measures by trading partners in neighbouring countries.
“To address the challenge of the threat of retaliation from our trading partners, Government will replace the import management programme with a local content policy,” said Minister Bimha.
“The policy is anchored on prescribing sectoral local content thresholds for goods purchased by Government departments, industrialists and retailers, among others. Local content policy will be applied and this will be considered as a smart protection measure. We would want to move away from the Statutory Instrument. To do this, we need to consult and consult widely so that we come up with a vibrant local content policy to enhance the Buy Zimbabwe concept.”
He outlined achievements that were registered by the import restrictive legal framework, describing SI64 as a bitter pill to swallow.
“Where I come from, we say mushonga unovava ndiwo unorapa. If you can gulp that medicine, you know you will be healed. That is what we can say about SI64.”
Some of the achievements of SI64 include cuts on the import bill, increase in revenue collection, a surge in capacity utilisation of up to 100 percent and new foreign direct investments.
Some firms that were exporting products in Zimbabwe ended up setting up plants in the country, thereby creating employment.
Challenges experienced during the implementation of SI64, said Minister Bimha, included trade-off between balancing existing employment within the retail and distribution outlets that import and protection of the local manufacturing industries.
Other challenges included delays in payments to foreign suppliers of raw materials owing to foreign exchange challenges and the prevailing liquidity crunch, which was currently depressing general aggregate demand.