Industry stakeholders met in Harare this Wednesday (yesterday) to discuss ways of increasing the uptake of locally manufactured goods by government departments to reduce the import bill.
The government is the biggest economic player in the country which provides a ready market for products and services through its various procurement activities, but is at times forced to import because locally manufactured products cannot meet the specified standards.
Buy Zimbabwe chairperson, Dr Anxious Masuka said stakeholders met to discuss the shortcomings of local companies and ways of addressing their challenges.
“The government, on a daily basis, procures products and services, making it the biggest market in the economy, so we are saying, as Buy Zimbabwe, let the government buy directly from locals so that we reduce the import bill which is threatening the country’s economy,” said Dr Masuka.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Dr Mavis Sibanda implored local companies to raise the quality of their products to compete with imports.
“Local products might be the best but they are poorly packaged and that reduces their competitiveness, so local companies should work on that,” Dr Sibanda said.
Head of State Enterprise Reform and Corporate Governance Unit in the Office of the President, Mr Willard Manungo said tackling government’s procurement efficiencies is key to import substitution.
“As part of ease of doing business, we are working flat out to make sure that we reduce our payment periods and increase the uptake of local products,” he said.
Various import substitution mechanisms have been put in place by government in order to restrict use of foreign currency to vital imports such as fuel and electricity rather than on luxurious goods which threaten the country’s economic health.