Stop rampant edible oil products smuggling, state urged

LOCAL cooking oil manufacturers have urged Government to level the playing field by stopping the rampant smuggling of imported edible oil products.
In an interview recently, Parrogate Continental Ginnery Limited business manager Imran Merchant said under declaration of imports and rampant smuggling is negatively affecting local industries.
He said it is difficult for Zambian producers to compete favourably when the playing field is not levelled.
“Most importers of cooking oil do under- declare at the border thus not paying the right taxes. Initially, we put our concerns to Government and the government listened to the Industry and banned imports for six months but lifted the ban, saying prices became too high. But this was due to the depreciation of the Kwacha since everything [buying of raw materials, machinery] is pegged in US dollars including payments to farmers,”
“Government should support local industries by banning illegal imports. We have no problem with competition because it lowers prices but if the playing field is not levelled then, industries will be out of business and farmers, packaging firms will all be affected,” Mr Merchant said.
He said some imported cooking oil products being off loaded on the market are misleading Zambians.
“There are some imported products whose labels show sunflower yet they use soya beans. There are Sunflower pictures on the labels but the actual product is a blend of palm oil,” he said.
“Local producers have engaged farmers; they pay right taxes and have created jobs so we need support from Government. Estimates show that national monthly consumption of cooking oil is 10,000 tonnes but we have a combined capacity to produce 20,000 tonnes and excess can be exported to earn foreign exchange,” Mr Merchant said.
Parrogate Ginneries, uses palm oil in their bulk packs and soya oil in their small packs to produce high quality ‘ZamGold’ cooking oil. Its refinery has an installed capacity of 1,500 tonnes per month but only produces up to 700 tonnes due to a small market that has been flooded with cheap imported oil.

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