Ishemunyoro Chingwere Business Reporter
Key national economic players welcomed Government’s decision this week to liberalise fuel importation under an intervention that gives firms with free funds the green light to procure the commodity for own use in a bid to avoid intermittent stock-outs.
The move is meant to insulate the productive sector of the economy, particularly those earning the much-needed foreign currency, from intermittent fuel shortages that have dogged the country due to foreign currency shortages.
It is also in sync with the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), which targets “quick-win initiatives, through respective growth stimulation packages, as well as instituting supportive adjustment measures, which address various existing internal and external macro-economic and financial sector imbalances”.
The need to further capacitate, particularly the agriculture and mining sectors, is premised on the two being expected to play a leading role in stimulating economic development as the country seeks to achieve upper-middle income status by 2030 with a per capita income of US$3 500.
The Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe (CoMZ) yesterday said Government’s decision to liberalise the importation of fuel for industrial use was welcome, but quickly noted the need for an upward review of the mines’ foreign currency retention threshold.
CoMZ is a private sector voluntary institution whose membership accounts for about 90 percent of the country’s total mineral output.
The organisation’s chief executive, Mr Isaac Kwesu, said some companies may however, fail to take advantage of the new intervention by Government due to foreign currency challenges.
Exporters are allowed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to retain a larger chunk of their earnings in foreign currency with gold miners, for example, retaining 55 percent in foreign currency, while the remainder is settled in RTGS$ using the interbank rate.
This is meant to ensure that they can import all their working requirements with no hassles.
“It’s (the liberalisation) good, it is very welcome,” said Mr Kwesu.
“But of note is that only those with foreign currency may then find it easy to import fuel into the country.
“Remember the foreign currency retention threshold we are currently getting was arrived at on the assumption that our fuel needs will be paid for using RTGS balances.
“What I am saying here is the forex we are retaining is already exhausted by other needs, so for us to benefit from the new regulations, there is a need for the foreign currency threshold we are getting to be increased,” he said.
Confederation of the Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president Mr Sifelani Jabangwe said the move is “a fuel supply stabilising strategy by putting responsibility to source fuel to some of the bulk users rather than wait for Government to source for them. So we hope it will stabilise the fuel supply situations.”
The Herald Online readers following the fuel situation said Government were spot on.
Commenting on the matter Mr Arnold Tinoda Mupfawi said: “This will help some of the big companies to go and purchase their own fuel for efficient running of their businesses without disturbances.”
Mr Rudo Saungweme had this to say: “We really appreciate the efforts by our Government which serves the people and implement policies that are for the people.”
The fuel supply situation had reached levels where queues had become the order of the day amid reports that daily consumption had reached eight million litres per day for both petrol and diesel.