THE decision to ban the importation of edible oil by the Government has the potential to block future dealings with other countries once Zambia’s industry blossoms to export levels, says Consumer Unit Trust Society country director Simon Ng’ona.
Mr Ng’ona said there were several factors to consider before undertaking such a measure as banning the importation of essential commodities could be counter-productive.
He said CUTS was still studying Government’s justification for the import ban, as well as observe the industry on its capacity to deliver.
“It is possible the Government could have made the decision to protect the local industry from permanent injury, where high imports manipulate the local industry.
“Concerns could be that do we have the local capacity to satisfy demand? Do we know the local capacity and the full demand quantity of edible oils in Zambia?” he said.
He wondered how the local industry would cope with deficits in case of increased demand over their projected demand in the country, “assuming they fail to meet the local demand, it would mean that there would be a shortage”.
“Maybe it (ban) should be implemented in a quarterly system, to look at how much demand is there, and how much is required to satisfy the local market.
“And we just hope this was an informed decision, arrived at after full consultation with all the stakeholders in the industry,” he said.
He charged that like other countries, Zambia had the potential to grow economically but only if it developed its manufacturing industry to a level to compete on the international front. Mr Ng’ona advised that with the ban in place, it was expected that the edible oil industry would grow and that it would impact positively on national development, as well as feed the regional markets and compete with international brands beyond Zambia’s borders.