SI64 review continuous: Chinamasa

15 Dec, 2016 - 00:12 0 Views

The Herald

Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016, which placed blanket restrictions on importation of a wide variety of goods, remains temporary and will be reviewed from time to time to add or subtract more products, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa has said.SI64 was widely criticised mainly by cross border traders but applauded by the local manufacturing industry that was choking on the back of unrestricted flooding of cheap imports into the country when it became effective in June this year.

The local industry says the restrictions have helped some firms boost capacity utilisation, market share and allowed them to create new jobs.

Government did not, however, provide time lines on how long the law would remain in force, a move criticised by some against unending protection.

Minister Chinamasa said review of the instrument “was a continuous process”.

“As we go forward we will be removing some items and placing them back on the open general import licence and putting some on the (restrictions) list,” he said.

He said assessments will be made on improvements made by companies benefiting from the protection and their ability to stand on their own to face competition.

Government is rallying companies that have been shielded under SI64 to invest in new machinery and improve efficiencies and quality of their goods.

In the 2017 National Budget presented last week, Minister Chinamasa added school uniforms, luggage wear and wheat flour on to the list of goods whose importation now required licensing to protect local industries.

The import restrictions have helped the country save scarce foreign currency as banks are now prioritising financing of imports, blocking unrestricted importation of trinkets.

In the long term, it is hoped the limitations will help close the huge gap between imports and exports, which has seen the country perennially recording a trade deficit. — New Ziana.

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