Govt  fails to pay for subsidised mealie-meal  

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THE government’s failure to settle outstanding payments to millers for subsidised mealie-meal is the major reason why there is shortage of the product on the market, the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (Gmaz) has said.

Early this year, the government introduced a subsidy on roller meal to cushion vulnerable groups but the product has hardly been available in formal retail outlets.

Gmaz media and public relations manager Garikai Chaunza told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that millers were struggling to stay afloat due to the government’s failure to meet its subsidy obligations.

“There are currently substantial outstanding subsidy payments to millers that have to be paid by government. This has, consequently, severely affected their cash flow and the ability of millers to timeously pay for subsequent maize purchases. These late payments are haemorrhaging millers financially,” said Chaunza.

He said the lack of transparency in the allocation of maize was also complicating matters.

“The maize allocations have not been done openly and transparently to Gmaz and this is making it difficult for the association to know which member has been allocated so that we facilitate offtake of GMB maize. This is a matter of public interest and the sale of this state-funded maize must be an open book.

“We also appeal to the authorities that the allocations of maize be done according to the miller’s ability to purchase and their milling capacities to process the maize,” Chaunza said.

Efforts to get a comment on the matter from Industry minister Sekai Nzenza were unsuccessful yesterday but at the end of May she told Parliament the subsidies on maize-meal would continue.

“In Cabinet we presented a paper for discussion that was mainly targeting the subsidy programme; it’s going to continue for another two months and the aim is to ensure that the consumer will receive a bag of roller meal at $70 during this lockdown period and after this period it is likely to go up,” Nzenza said.

She added that government would put in place measures to address hoarding and smuggling of maize meal.

“In order to address challenges such as hoarding and smuggling we are going to ensure that subsidised roller meal is clearly marked that this is government of Zimbabwe roller meal.

“Mealie-meal challenges we are facing have to do with human nature. People smuggle these cheaper products outside the country for resale, roller meal is also found in tuck shops where people just hoard and increase the price. We are still addressing the issue..,” said the minister then.

Early this year the government set up a task force to ensure transparent and equitable distribution of maize meal to curb the shortages.

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