Millers call for roller meal subsidy transparency

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THE National Business Council of Zimbabwe (NBCZ) has implored the government to ensure that the roller meal subsidy programme is run in a transparent manner.
In December last year, the government and millers reached an agreement which saw the retail price of maize-meal drop to $50 per 10kg, after the Finance ministry undertook to pay a subsidy to millers.
Speaking at a press briefing in Harare recently, NBCZ executive chairperson Keith Guzah raised concerns over the subsidised mealie meal, which has found its way onto the black market.
“This is a national programme where government is channelling resources meant for other projects and as such, transparency is critical from all government ministries and the millers involved.
“We are reliably informed that government, through the Finance ministry, has so far injected over $200 million in advance to eight milling companies and yet the millers have produced very little to justify the allocations.
“As such, we need to bring millers to account for the money they received. We shall be engaging the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (Gmaz) for answers,” Guzah said.
The implementation of the subsidy model has, however, not gone as smoothly as anticipated. Last month, Gmaz chairperson Tafadzwa Musarara was accused of bungling the registration of millers. He warned then that the availability of the subsidised roller meal would not happen overnight even if the provision of maize to millers was speeded up.
“Some members who were aiming to open end of January had to be requested to open early to assist in dealing with the shortages. This requires all millers on deck,” said Musarara.
The government recently said it had registered 65 millers for the roller meal subsidy programme but the country is still facing shortages which have persisted for over six weeks now.
Guzah has blamed the shortage of subsidised roller meal on lack of transparency.
“Currently, there is no roller meal in the shops, leaving the generality of our people who survive on this staple food starving or scrounging for decently priced alternatives.
“Accountability is key in restoring confidence in our people. Gone are the days where people hide in their high offices, totally oblivious as to what is happening on the ground,” he said.
But industry minister Sekai Nzenza, whose ministry has created a taskforce to address the leakages leading to shortages has, however, attributed the shortages to failure by millers to work during the December holidays, panic buying and hoarding by black market dealers.

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