The Zimbabwe government has with immediate effect partially suspended regulations banning imports to allow the general public to bring in goods without licenses in a bid to address the shortages of basic commodities and ease pressure on demand for foreign currency on the central bank.
The southern African country is in the throes of a dollar shortages while the move to separate United States dollar denominated accounts from locally funded accounts led to an increase in foreign currency demand in the black market and a spike in prices.
In 2016, the government banned a range of products from the import list to protect the local industry under SI64, which was later replaced by the SI122 of 2017. The ban is seen hitting the local manufacturers hard, despite government maintaining duty on the imports.
Among the 31 commodities which can now be imported without licenses and limit on quantities into the country is cement, bottled water, sugar, flour, coffee creamers, fertilizers, cooking oil, body creams, crude soya bean oil, animal oils, cereals, packaging materials, cheese and pizza base.
Addressing a press conference after a cabinet meeting today, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the partial lifting of the ban was meant to ensure availability of basic commodities ahead of the festive season and ease demand on foreign currency.
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