GOVERNMENT says an inter ministerial task force set up to probe issues around the influx of illegal imports has come up with and approved recommendations to resolve the problem.
Interventions will entail use of hi-tech gadgets at ports of entry and surveillance around particular radius around border posts. Government also put in place a border efficiency management committee to minimise such issues.
Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Mike Bimha said in an interview last week that Government was fully aware of the problem of illegal imports and was addressing the issue.
This comes after the Government came up with Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 in July last year with a view to restrict entry of products that could be manufactured locally to give local firms latitude to retool and increase production.
Dr Bimha said the Government was cognisant of the fact that some individuals would find illegal means to smuggle certain goods following measures to restrict their import.
“It is an area that we cannot address as a ministry because of the need to involve as many other ministries as possible, Government agencies and stakeholders as well, so that collectively we can address this issue,” he said
Imports have continued to flood the local market despite measures put in place by the Government to remove certain locally made products from the open general import licence. Dr Bimha said corrupt officials at the ports of entry were partly to blame for smuggling of goods.
“We have an inter-ministerial task force looking into this issue. A lot of work has already been done and recommendations have been put forward and approved (by a task force).
Dr Bimha said the inter-ministerial taskforce had met for several months and came up with far reaching recommendations on how the problem should be stemmed.
“What we have been waiting for was to get the necessary (financial) resources to acquire the ICT gadgets that we think will alleviate this problem in a big way,” Dr Bimha said.
“Once the (financial) resources are available, we will see this problem being reduced to lower levels.”
Every year, Zimbabwe records huge trade and current account deficits due to its high import bill at a time local industry’s capacity to produce and compete on the global markets is severely constrained due to the decade of economic meltdown.
Over the period January to December 2016, merchandise exports decreased by 6,9 percent, from $3,614 billion realised in 2015 to $3,365 billion during the same period in 2016.
Similarly, merchandise imports for January to December 2016 at $5,350 billion, declined by 11,7 percent from $6,062 billion realised over the comparative period in 2015.