HARARE, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwean government has lifted a ban on importation of some basic commodities effected in 2016 to allow companies and individuals with offshore and free funds to import specified basic commodities that are in short supply, state media reported Wednesday.
Some basic commodities have either gone off the shelves or are now being sold at exorbitant prices because of speculation by some local retailers and panic-buying by consumers.
The Herald newspaper said the decision to amend Statutory Instrument 122 of 2017 was reached by Cabinet at its sitting on the same day.
SI 122 of 2017 is the amended version of S1 164 of 2016 which the government imposed to protect local industry and promote the buying of locally produced goods.
The Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Monica Mutsvangwa, said that Acting Minister of Industry and Commerce Sekai Nzenza had on Tuesday presented to Cabinet the prevailing situation in the market regarding the availability and prices of basic commodities.
She said the continuing increases in prices had effectively pushed the commodities beyond the reach of many people.
"Cabinet further observed that owing to panic and speculative buying, products which used to be sold over a month are now being sold in just three hours' time, a situation which is completely unsustainable.
"Accordingly, as a way forward, Cabinet resolved as follows: that the Minister of Industry and Commerce temporarily amends SI 122 of 2017 to allow both companies and individuals with offshore and free funds to import specified basic commodities currently in short supply pending the return to normalcy in buying patterns of the public and adequate restocking by manufacturers," she said.
Commodities that can be imported include animal oils and fats, baked beans, body creams, bottled water, cement, cereals, cheese, coffee creams, cooking oil, crude soya bean oil, fertilizer, finished steel roofing sheets, wheat flour, ice cream soap, sugar, wheel barrows, agrochemicals and stockfeed.
Cabinet also resolved that government, through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, should support the productive sector through foreign currency allocation to ensure that they adequately stock up for the forthcoming festive season and that more resources be channeled towards primary production, particularly agriculture, with focus on soya beans and wheat.
Some retailers and wholesalers have been charging different prices for the same commodities based on the mode of payment.
A manager with one of the country's biggest retail chains told Xinhua Wednesday that they had reduced trading hours effective this week to ease pressure on the stocks drawdown.