Whinsley Masara recently in Harare
CONFEDERATION of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) president, Mr Denford Mutashu, has implored Government to tighten border control surveillance and curb “rampant” smuggling, which is negatively affecting the sector’s operations.
He told delegates during the recent fourth edition of the CZR annual national retailers and wholesalers awards event that the country’s borders were porous hence smuggling of goods was rife.
Mr Mutashu said retailers were losing big business to informal retailers who source goods mainly through smuggling and do not pay taxes to the Government.
“Formal retail players are failing to cope with this level of informalisation, as traders sell smuggled goods on the streets and in front of retail shops, posing unjustified competition,” he said.
“The situation is compounded by the fact that the operating costs of formal retailers have gone up significantly, with property owners now demanding their monthly rentals in foreign currency.
“Fuel shortages have also significantly affected our logistics and the general increase in the prices by our suppliers has also weakened consumers’ spending power.”
Vice President Kembo Mohadi, who was represented by his principal director, Dr Temba Ndlovu at the event, also stressed the need to tame smuggling.
He noted that smuggling was robbing Government of the much needed revenue as the culprits do not pay duty.
“We believe the efficacy of the industrial policy’s instruments is hinged on the effectiveness of the borderline control.
“We are also quite alive to the levels of the informalisation of the economy, which is more pronounced in the retail sector,” he said.
Mr Mutashu said the situation has also been worsened by the two cents tax whose burden has been shifted to the final consumer, thereby depleting business volumes.
The CZR leader also called on Government to expedite the industrialisation drive by launching the much awaited industrial and local content policies.
He said these policies should deliver detailed measures on how to revive each and every sub-sector of manufacturing so as to create an industrial bank to support the recapitalisation and wider growth of businesses.
Mr Mutashu also acknowledged the prevailing pricing level was not sustainable for the economy and called for stakeholder engagement to find lasting solutions.
“As retailers, we are price takers in most of the circumstances but we call for responsible pricing where some retailers might be unjustifiably enriching themselves through price hikes,” he said.
“We continue to monitor the price situation through our economics department and to engage retailers that might be caught off guard.
“As retailers, we also encourage Government to urgently address the currency situation in a manner that will effectively deal with multi-tier pricing.”
CZR also called for efficient utilisation of the foreign currency being generated in the economy by ensuring that it optimises productive sectors and assists in the generation of more reserves.