Government on Tuesday last week promulgated Statutory Instrument 10A of 2024 to re-introduce duty on basic commodities.
The affected commodities include maize meal, milk, sugar, rice, flour, salt, bath soap, laundry soap, washing powder and toothpaste with effect from February 1, 2024.
But CCZ spokesperson Phillmon Chereni warned of shortages of basic commodities as local industries may fail to meet market demand of the goods.
“Businesses with free funds were allowed to import basics without paying duty on listed products, the Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion minister Mthuli Ncube has since rescinded the directive,” Chereni said.
“Though the move protects local industry from imports that have flooded local markets reducing capacity utilisation, prices of basic commodities are most likely to go up further eroding consumers’ purchasing power as we have already noted through our routine research in the CCZ basket showing an upward increase of basics [prices] especially in local currency.
“There is a need for policymakers to ascertain through consultations if local industry can fill the gap to avoid unforeseen shortages that might emanate.”
The government last year suspended import duty and value added tax on basic commodities as a measure to protect consumers from unwarranted price increases that had hit the market.
Prices of basic commodities are currently on an upward trend, with some retailers rejecting the local currency in preference of the United States dollar.
The CCZ called for dialogue between captains of industry and authorities to stabilise businesses that will be affected by the new law.
“We encourage continuous dialogue between stakeholders to find lasting solutions to avert negative effects that might impact on business and consumers,” Chereni said.
Source – newsday