prices.jpgGovernment has been called upon to assess industrial productivity ahead of the expiry of a duty free regime for imported basic commodities next month.

Since February 2009, the government has been continuously extending the duty free zone arguing that local industry is not fully capacitated to sustain the domestic market.

However, as expiry date of the duty free regime looms, some industrialists have urged the government to introduce protectionist policies on selected locally produced commodities whose supplies have increased while extending the system on some basic goods in short supply.

“This is a hot issue and we believe that  it is in the interest of manufacturing firms for key ministries such as Finance as well as Industry and Commerce to assess production of local goods in coming up with a decision in selecting imported goods that will qualify for a zero percent tariff rating,” said Mr Davison Norupiri, who is the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) vice chairman.

The Immediate Past President for Mashonaland Chamber of Industries, Mr Johannes Mudzengerere says while industry is struggling to recapitalise, leading to limited production, the fate of the duty free zone depends on industry’s ability to supply markets with enough commodities.

“This issue is one of the most saddening one as it is putting a strain on government’s resources,”  Mr Mudzengerere said.

The government, through the Ministry of Finance, has come under criticism from industry for failing to introduce a distressed companies facility that will provide loans to manufacturing firms at concessionary rates to restore normal output and solve the widening trade deficit hovering around US$2 billion as import volumes are now outstripping exports receipts.