HomeLocal NewsPVC pipes smuggling on rise

PVC pipes smuggling on rise

JULIA NDLELA
RAMPANT smuggling of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes has hit Zimbabwe with indications that a number of borehole drilling companies are dribbling past formal systems, bringing in grey imports into the country at the expense of the local industry.

This follows an increase in the number of borehole drilling companies operating in the country due to water challenges.

The Zimbabwe Independent is informed that some borehole drilling companies, which are the biggest customers of PVC pipes, were shunning local manufacturers, opting for cheap grey imports from countries like Malawi.

Some companies are even getting import licences from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. This has put the government under the spotlight over its sincerity to protect the local industry.

Proplastics, Driptech and Treggers are some of the biggest manufacturers and suppliers of PVC pipes in the country.

“The smuggling of PVC pipes in the country is now a serious issue because the local industry is suffering. Many borehole companies are bringing PVC pipes from Malawi illegally. The country is also losing millions in potential revenue,” a source said.

“Some are importing using genuine import licences. Some of the pipes, particularly those used for irrigation, are even duty-free. That is greatly affecting local capacity.”

This is despite government gazetting Statutory Instrument (SI) 64 of 2016 aimed at resuscitating the local industry and regulating imports.

According to the Statutory Instrument, for one to bring goods like furniture, groceries, and a variety of plastic pipes they have to get a permit.

This has raised questions over how the companies are accessing the permits.

The Ministry of  Industry and Commerce spokesperson, Yvonne Gundu said the issue of smuggling was under the purview of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra).

“The issue of smuggling is taken care of by Zimra which falls under the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. We encourage citizens to report to that office. We suggest that you direct your inquiry to them,” she said.

“Additionally, there is no way that we are issuing licences for people to smuggle.  The primary issue of smuggling is not under our purview.”

Contacted for comment, Proplastics chief executive Kudakwashe Chigiya said the company at one point wrote to Zimra raising its concerns over companies that were importing PVC and HDPE pipes and evading tariffs.

The local industry is facing stiff competition from products coming from the Sadc region.

The grey imports were also coming in cheaper because some Sadc governments were giving incentives to exporters that make the products cheaper.

These include subsidising export-related expenses, such as, costs of visiting customers.

Some Sadc companies that make plastic pipes get a 4,5% rebate from firms like Sasol Polymers. This reduces their cost of production.

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