Fuel prices are expected to decline in the near future amid indications that Government is contemplating further reducing excise duty on diesel and petrol with a view to contain price increases, President Mnangagwa said yesterday. On January 22, Government reduced Excise duty on petrol from 45 cents per litre to 38,5 cents per litre, while duty on diesel and paraffin fell from 40 cents per litre to 33 cents per litre.
President Mnangagwa said the mooted Excise duty reduction will also enhance competitiveness of local products on the export markets. He also said efforts were underway to arrest cash shortages in the country, which have caused "great hardships" to citizens.
The President said this yesterday while officiating during Zimbabwe's 38th independence anniversary celebrations at the National Sports Stadium in Harare. This comes as Government remains seized with efforts to cut high production costs that have been dogging the country's manufacturing sector.
"My Government is attending to various production challenges and will cut excise duty on diesel and petrol to bring down prices for consumers and at the same time enhance competitiveness," said President Mnangagwa.
Since Government introduced Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016, the manufacturing sector has been witnessing a steady rise in capacity utilisation and the general availability of locally produced goods.
Several companies such as cooking oil manufacturer Willowton and health and wellness products producer Nestle Zimbabwe, have ramped up production.
Willowton, which also produces soap, recently launched a $40 million refinery in Mutare, and there are plans to venture into candles, margarine and rice production. Nestle also commissioned a state-of-the-art $500 000 Cremora filling and packaging plant, which is expected to see the country saving $2 million through import substitution per annum.
President Mnangagwa also said given the "goodwill" the country continues to receive from around the world, investors were stampeding for investment opportunities which will result in the economy growing by almost 1 percent compared to last year.
"This renewed domestic and foreign investor confidence will see our projected economic growth increase from 3,7 percent last year to 4,5 percent in 2018," he said. The economic growth is expected to be underpinned by strong performances in the mining, agriculture, tourism and construction sectors.
Regards agriculture, Government is pressing ahead with the Command Agriculture program, which has seen output rising, in the process ensuring national food self-sufficiency. Command Agriculture started with the maize crop in 2016 but has since been widened to cover livestock, fisheries and wildlife.
Beef cattle breeding is set to get $10 million so as to boost output, while a budget of $37 million has also been set aside towards the national irrigation rehabilitation and development program.
President Mnangagwa said they continue to source modern irrigation equipment from around the world, with Russia and Belarus making firm commitments to set up agriculture equipment plants. At the same time, Government continues to look up to the mining sector to continue contributing to economic growth.
Key minerals such as gold, platinum, nickel and diamonds are expected to spur economic growth. President Mnangagwa said Government will soon formulate a comprehensive diamond policy that will guide operations, development and sustainability in the sector.
"Related thereto, the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company will commence full commercial production of conglomerate diamonds in the second quarter of this year following the installation of a conglomerate processing plant," said President Mnangagwa.
Minerals, particularly gold, are central in attracting foreign currency. However, President Mnangagwa called for sustainable exploitation of resources without degrading the environment. In terms of cash shortages, President Mnangagwa said they are "working tirelessly to solve" the challenges.
He said Government was accelerating the implementation of measures to resolve the shortage of cash within the economy, by mobilising foreign finance from regional and international financial institutions, increasing cash and currency importation, opening up the economy to investment, and enhancing exports to increase the supply of foreign currency.