As has become the norm in Zimbabwe, companies in various sectors of the economy are looking up to the government (via the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe) to provide the much need foreign currency which enables them to continue with the production and/or the supply of crucial goods in the economy. Such has become the norm that week in, week out, the media carries reports on a number of dialogues that companies and industries are making with government requesting full or partial (subsidization) allocation of forex in order to continue being in business and supplying their produce at the prevailing price.
The inevitable possibility of a price increase looming if their needs are not met has been used to try and bring the government to the negotiating table and ‘bend’ them in. Given the challenges that most businesses are facing in trying to source forex for raw material which are imported, l cannot totally label their chosen approach to try and secure forex from the government ‘demonic’ as they are left with no other option. However, this constant request for funding has become so common that one begins to wonder if the companies in these industries now want to live from government hand outs and if they cannot secure funding else including across our borders?
It is common knowledge that when a cow is milked constantly, eventually it will have no milk to give out. It is also a ‘public secret’ that the well that everyone in the community draws from eventually runs dry if no other well is built to support it. Likewise, it does not require a rocket scientist to know that eventually the RBZ will not be able to sustain this high demand of foreign currency. And the signs of this are beginning to show as the local papers begin to report the RBZ is failing to meet the monthly forex needs of various industries. One such report that will send ‘thirsty shivers’ down the throats of many liquid loving Zimbabweans especially at this time of the year when the sun is scotching, is the report carried in the Newsday dated 5 November 2018, which carries the headline ‘RBZ fails to avail Delta’s monthly $5m forex need.’ I take a gulp as l try to digest what this entails.
Over the past few weeks l have heard a number of Zimbabweans saying that the current economic situation was hurting them and they were soldiering on but the apex of the situation would be reached if beer prices where to go up. Could this be the defining moment in our struggle as citizens of this country? Delta company secretary Alex Makamure told NewsDay on Friday announced that the group requires $5 million in foreign currency on a monthly basis to import raw materials. He went on to say, and l quote “We have not yet received any foreign currency allocation for the past three weeks and this has negative impact on our production, as we require it to purchase raw materials needed to make soft drinks. The business requires at least US$5 million every month to meet its imported raw materials needs.” Mr Makamure however stated that they were continuing to engage banks and the RBZ so that they could get this allocation but one cannot stop thinking if this is the beginning of beer shortages in the country?
Generally there has been a shortage of soft drinks in the market presumably because of the shortage of forex to purchase raw materials by Delta. Beer supplies have however remained constant but such reports with not go down well in the throats of many beer loving citizens. Will this failure by the RBZ lead to the increase of beer prices or to its shortage? This is inevitable and only time will tell hoping that when that time unveils itself, we can still sit down and have an affordable drink and discuss how best the RBZ as the regulator and facilitator can help our local companies source the much need forex elsewhere including outside our boarders.
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