Government has removed import duty on maize and wheat, among other basic commodities, as it seeks to ensure affordability of essential foodstuffs and to mitigate the effects of the drought experienced last season.
Subsidies on grain purchases have also been removed for millers and commercial users in line with an announcement by Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube in his 2020 National Budget Statement last week.
This was said by Acting Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Cde Mangaliso Ndlovu while presenting the 41st Cabinet decisions matrix in Harare yesterday.
"Cabinet noted the need to ensure the continued availability of essential foodstuffs in the market and to counter the effects of the drought that was experienced during the 2018/19 agricultural season," he said.
"Accordingly, Cabinet has resolved to implement the following temporary measures: removal of control of goods import permits for maize grain, maize meal and wheat flour, with immediate effect; placement of wheat flour on the Open General Import Licence (OGIL) with immediate effect."
Other products that have been exempted include wheat flour in packages of more than 50kg, whose duty was pegged at 20 percent, while those packages of less than 50kg used to attract 10 percent duty.
Maize meal, which was at 25 percent duty, has also been exempted.
"Millers and commercial users of grain are hereby informed that following the pronouncement in the 2020 National Budget, the subsidy on grain has been removed with immediate effect," said Minister Ndlovu.
"In essence, all users of grain, including millers, will now buy grain at cost prices which currently stand at $4 000 for maize and small grains per tonne and $8 612 for wheat per tonne.
"Government will also be unveiling the mechanism for targeted subsidies for basic foodstuffs, particularly maize meal as outlined per 2020 Budget Statement once the finer details are worked out. This is intended as an additional cushion for vulnerable households and the generality of Zimbabweans.
"Cabinet, therefore, wishes to assure the nation that all measures possible will continue to be taken in order to ease the challenges of accessing food by all Zimbabweans."
Responding to questions, Prof Ncube said Government was determined to find ways of increasing the supply of basic commodities on the market and to ordinary people.