Livingstone Marufu Business Reporter
COOKING OIL manufacturers have supplied 4, 4 million litres of the commodity to the market since brief shortages a fortnight ago, which has restored availability of the product to near normal levels. Producers increased supply following acute shortages experienced due to panic buying that occurred about two weeks back. Oil Expressors Association of Zimbabwe president Busisa Moyo said the oil producers will continue to increase supplies to the market despite shortages of foreign currency.
“We have managed to put around 2,2 million litres of oil into the market in the aftermath of panic buying of major basic commodities especially cooking oil,” Mr Moyo said last week.
He said foreign currency was still a major challenge, but indicated the Reserve Bank had promised to address the issue. The oil producers are lobbying for permission to sell some of the product for cash in foreign currency to be able to import raw materials. The assertion is that cash sales in foreign currency will supplement the $30 million weekly allocation from RBZ.
“We all know what is happening in the economy, informal dealers are buying through electronic payment systems from shops at around $4 or $5 per 2litre bottle and sell for $3 to get cash especially US dollars and it’s creating serious problems for us. We are in discussion with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to allow people to buy basic commodities with cash at an incentive so that the retailers can have the physical US dollar notes so that they can be able to import critical goods. This will certainly fizzle out the informal market and will allow the retailers to bank the money,” said Mr Moyo.
Government is monitoring retail shops and wholesalers in major cities and towns to assess availability of basic commodities and their prices. Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers are also carrying out their own survey to be used to compare notes with Government. Government intends to incentivise players in the cooking oil value chain starting next year to ensure the adequate supply of raw materials and crude cooking oil reserves. It will also extend incentives to all small scale farmers of soya beans and sunflower to boost production of crude oil. Apart from ensuring enough supply of crude oil, the initiative will also help cut the annual import bill of $120 million spent on crude oil imports.