Govt crafts measures to tackle smuggling

Source: Govt crafts measures to tackle smuggling | The Herald

Business Reporter
GOVERNMENT is working on measures aimed at curtailing the rampant smuggling of goods into the country.

Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Mike Bimha told The Herald Business that Government was cognisant of the threat smuggling has on the economy. In line with this, an inter-ministerial committee chaired by the Ministry of Home Affairs was established and is working on recommendations to tackle smuggling. “I am happy that we have come up with a blueprint on how we are going to address smuggling,” said Dr Bimha in an interview. “Smuggling has a lot of dimensions to it, hence the need to have a broad spectrum of ministries and agencies to look into this issue.

“I think it is too early for me to divulge much, but we have identified the loopholes and we have also come up with recommendations addressing issues like use of technology, drones, CCTV and issues to do with the human factor,” he said adding that corrupt officials were also a menace in the fight against smuggling and recommendations in the blueprint would address that too.

He, however, made a call to all stakeholders to fight smuggling, as this did not affect Government only. “Smuggling is the biggest challenge which we want to address. But it is not only for Government alone to address, it also requires participation of wholesalers, supermarkets and retailers; we need to do this together,” said Dr Bimha.

Capacity use for the manufacturing sector spiralled downwards in the past decade as industry battled lack of funding for retooling and unfair competition from imports, some of them smuggled into the country. Recovery, however started last year after Government promulgated Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 which removed some products that can be locally manufactured from the general open import licence.

Since its introduction, local manufacturers have started registering improvement in production volumes, job creation, market share as well as enhanced competitiveness.

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries manufacturing sector survey reports shows capacity utilisation rose to 47 percent in 2016 from 34 percent recorded in 2015. However, Dr Bimha acknowledged the smuggling in of goods could reverse SI64 gains and therefore needed to be addressed with haste. “Normally, when you come up with measures to control the formal sector, people resort to the informal sector to counter that. There were people who were benefiting from importation, all of sudden there was an instrument to stop it and so they resorted to smuggling.”