By Bulawayo Bureau
Small — scale millers have appealed to Government to increase maize allocations and release outstanding payments to ensure consumers have adequate supplies of roller meal.
Small to Medium Millers Association of Zimbabwe (SMMAZ) chairperson, Mr Davies Muhambi, said the suspension of maize subsidy allocations was negatively impacting on small millers and availability of roller meal.
“We plead with Government to expedite the resumption of allocations,” he said. “Our SME millers’ businesses face imminent collapse.”
Grain Marketing Board (GMB) general manager, Mr Rockie Mutenha, said the maize allocation will resume once a new price had been established.
“We stopped for the month of May when a new maize producer price was announced,” he said. “The millers themselves didn’t know what price to sell the mealie-meal at because the subsidy was being worked on by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.”
SMMAZ wrote to Secretary for Finance and Economic Development, Mr George Guvamatanga, appealing for outstanding payments.
The small-scale millers want Government to protect the milling industry through amendment of Statutory Instrument 119 of 2020, which lifted duty on maize meal and flour.
“Given the extraordinary times we find ourselves in, we agree with the need to complement subdued local production of maize meal and wheat flour with imports,” said SMMAZ. “However, our concern is that allowing all entities which are not invested in the milling industry will have a negative impact on the viability of SME millers. This is our role in the economy.
“We also want to draw your attention to the fact that most of the SME millers have outstanding subsidy payments due to them from Government, which are being eroded by inflation. Some of the payments date back to February, meaning millers have lost 60 percent of working capital.”
The millers are appealing to be paid through maize rebates instead of money, to cushion them from inflation.
Under the maize subsidy programme, the GMB allocates the grain to licensed millers at reduced prices and the millers distribute to retailers who then sell at $70 per a 10kg bag.
Government would pay licensed millers subsidy amounts commensurate to an agreed extraction rate of 80 percent after verification that production has taken place.
Maize purchased by licensed millers from the GMB should be used solely for the production of maize meal.