Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) is pinning its hopes on the opening of the tobacco marketing season, which is expected to improve nostro account balances.
Several companies are struggling to make foreign payments on time due to persistent foreign currency shortages since last year.
“Our members are still complaining about the slow approval of foreign payments, resulting in the manufacturing sector not being able to access raw materials on time. As a result of this, production capacities by companies that source raw materials outside the country has been compromised,” CZI vice president Mr Sifelani Jabangwe said in an interview.
“For the time being, we do not expect to see the prevailing liquidity situation improving until the tobacco selling season starts. After the closure of the 2016 tobacco selling season, there has not been any significant improvement in the nostro account balances.”
The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has announced that this year’s marketing season would open early, probably next month.
Mr Jabangwe said the country can only move out of the liquidity crunch by ensuring total exports value are improved.
Zimbabwe’s appetite for imports last year dropped by more than $1.8 billion on the back of falling consumer demand and tight import controls.
The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency has indicated that the country exported goods and services at a value of at least $3.5 billion thereby creating an average trade deficit of $3.3 billion. The major exports included tobacco, gold and platinum.
The country experienced a huge drop on imported vehicles, consumer goods, groceries, household commodities, agro-processed foods and milk products among others.
In 2016, CZI announced that it was working jointly with other stakeholders in the private sector to come up with practical interventions to address the prevailing liquidity crisis.
It has been observed that the cash crisis could even undermine Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 the Government has put in place to control the importation of goods that are available locally.
Promulgated in June 2016, SI64/ 2016 had over 40 products among them cereals, coffee creamers, dairy products, iron and steel, as well as hardware goods removed from the Open General Import Licence.