The Bulawayo-based Association for Business in Zimbabwe (Abuz) has accused Industry and Commerce minister Mike Bimha of failing to hold consultation meetings with the business community in the country concerning the Consignment-based Conformity Assessment (CBCA) programme.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
The government recently introduced the CBCA programme aimed at reducing the importation of substandard goods.
Under the CBCA programme all imported goods should comply with accepted quality standards and their values should be properly declared.
This would require all import consignments to be certified compliant in terms of quality and price at point of shipment.
Certification would be conducted by French firm, Bureau Veritas.
However, Abuz and various business associations had already dismissed the programme citing it would add costs to every listed item which would have to be passed on to already over-burdened consumers.
In a statement on Thursday, Abuz said the Bulawayo business community continued to remain in a state of uncertainty after Bimha announced the suspension of the roll-out of the CBCA programme earlier this month.
“The minister indicated that the programme would not be implemented on May 16 2015 and the exact date of implementation would depend on ‘consultations with the business community and stakeholders’,” Abuz said.
“It is now five weeks from the date of the suspension and no consultations have been held in Bulawayo, or anywhere else within Zimbabwe, as far as we can ascertain, despite assurances of the same,” it added.
“Similarly, Abuz and International Freight Forwarders’ Association of Zimbabwe, has requested a meeting with the minister on more than one occasion since the beginning of May 2015 and have presented him with position papers – to which they as yet are to receive any response,” Abuz said.
Abuz added that this raised serious concerns as to where and when consultations would take place, especially in Bulawayo.
“There is no change to the business community’s initial concerns and in fact, as awareness grows, such concerns are being exacerbated as a fuller realisation of the suicidal implications of their effect to which every citizen of Zimbabwe is exposed,” it added.
Zimra had been instructed to work with the agent Bureau Veritas in the implementation of CBCA.
Abuz said at the sidelines of the just-ended African Tax Administrators’ Forum in Victoria Falls, the Zimra commissioner-general Gershem Pasi was quoted by the media as saying he had received a directive from the government to implement pre-shipment inspections at border posts because it was “policy issue”, and that inspections would start on June 16 2015.
“This is nonsensical in light of the suspension of the programme pending further consultations and the fact that it does not strictly speaking, fall within Zimra’s mandate; a fact attested to in a response to this query being raised by Abuz directly to Zimra,” it said.
Abuz said the Industry and Commerce ministry advises through the media that the implementation date is still to be announced after consultations with concerned stakeholders, and once they had addressed some outstanding technical and administrative issues.