BULAWAYO — Industry has said the continued smuggling of goods into the country through porous ports of entry is hurting the country’s ailing economy at the same time working against government’s policies to promote domestic products.
Zimbabwe’s economy, projected to grow by 2,7 percent this year, remains saddled by a myriad of challenges, which have led to the collapse of many companies.
Despite tightening of security measures at the country’s border posts and international airports, some goods still find their way into the country due to rampant corruption.
Just recently at the Harare International Airport, some passengers who had disembarked from a plane arriving from Kenya were arrested after Customs officers confiscated their luggage. They were found with 600 cellphones.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president, Busisa Moyo, said smuggling was hurting the economy. The fact that smuggling of goods into the country has continued, regardless of the policies put in place by government to end the scourge means that the country has failed to implement its policies.
“The government’s pro local industry policies are being undermined by smuggling and we will continue to lobby government to talk to the Zimbabwe Revenue authority in order to curb that,” said Moyo. He said CZI was also considering coming up with incentives against smuggling.
In order to curb smuggling of cooking oil into the country, Moyo said oil expressers would come up with a whistle-blower system to alert authorities of any leakages.
Association of Business in Zimbabwe executive, Lucky Mlilo, said there was need for strict controls at the country’s points of entry.
“The smuggling of goods has got a negative impact on those people who want to do business in a proper and ethical way — paying duties and so forth — in that those who smuggle have lesser costs and therefore enjoy an unfair advantage when we compete with them in the same market,” said Mlilo.
“Some companies are even closing down because of these cheap imports. We continue advocating to relevant authorities to tighten controls at the borders because this is killing industry. There has to be deterrent sentences for people who do such things because this amounts to economic sabotage,” he added.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer, Christopher Mugaga, estimates that Zimbabwe could be losing losing US$1,5 billion every year through smuggling of goods. The figure is more than one third of the country’s US$4 billion National Budget.
Fears abound that smuggling is likely to increase from next month as the government intensifies measures to safeguard consumers from substandard imports.
The measures come into effect on March 1 under the Consignment Based Conformity Assessment programme, which ensures that all listed products meet quality, safety, health and environmental standards in line with World Trade Organisation agreements.
Government has already said importers who bring consignments without conformity certificates would be denied entry into the country.
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