By Daniel Chigundu
Cabinet has resolved to temporary suspend Statutory Instrument 122(SI122) of 2017 to allow retailers and individuals to import basic commodities to avert current shortages being experienced in the market.
Suppliers have been failing to meet the demand for such goods as cooking oil, sugar, salt, cordials, laundry soap and juices among many others.
The demand saw such retail supermarkets as OK closing most of its outlets due to empty shelves, while queues at other supermarkets such as PicknPay have become the norm.
Addressing the media after a meeting, Cabinet revealed that it had resolved to suspend the instrument until the situation is back to normal.
“Following presentation of an update report by the Minister of Industry and Commerce on the prevailing price situation and availability of fuel, cabinet noted with concern that the basic commodities continued to be in short supply despite increased production by suppliers, thereby reflecting persistent panic and speculative buying of the commodities by members of the public.
“The continuing increases in prices effectively pushes the commodities beyond the reach of many of our people. Cabinet further observed that owing to panic and speculative buying, products which used to be sold over a month are now being sold in just three hours’ time, a situation which is completely unsustainable.
“Accordingly, as a way forward, cabinet resolved that the minister of Industry and Commerce temporarily amends SI122 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”.
Some of the commodities that have been allowed include animal oils, baked beans, body creams, bottled water, cooking oil, potato crisps, ice crème, peanut butter, wheat flour and coffee creamers among many others.
SI122 was put in place to protect local industries from imported goods which the country has the capacity to produce and the move could prove costly as locally manufactured goods cannot compete with imports in terms of price and quality.
The suspension of the ban which emanated from a Zanu PF resolution will literary turn the country into a supermarket of the world.