Thursday, July 24, 2008

(HERALD) Govt keeps up pressure on fertilizer companies

Govt keeps up pressure on fertilizer companies
Herald Reporter

Zimphos yesterday said it has produced 1 000 tonnes of super phosphate — an essential ingredient in making Compound D fertilizer — which will be ready for dispatch to fertilizer-manufacturing companies tomorrow. Government is maintaining pressure on fertilizer manufacturers and yesterday sent the Cabinet Taskforce on Economic Stabilisation to monitor progress at Zimphos.

"We have produced 1 000 tonnes of super phosphate after receiving raw materials on July 16," Chemplex Corporation chief executive officer Mr Misheck Kachere told the taskforce. Zimphos is a subsidiary of Chemplex Corporation. Mr Kachere said the company was facing difficulties in importing some essential raw materials.

However, the company had in stock 14 000 tonnes of phosphate rock, which it had received from Dorowa Minerals and was expected to last two months.

"We have no problem with getting resources from Dorowa because it is our (subsidiary) company, but we have difficulties in getting raw materials from outside," Mr Kachere said.

The taskforce was also told that Zimphos required continuous electricity supply as its machines were designed to run 24 hours a day throughout the year.

Government said it was closely monitoring companies that have received financial support from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to ensure maximum production of basic commodities for the benefit of the nation.

In an interview after the tour, the Minister of Industry and International Trade, Cde Obert Mpofu, said it was the mandate of the taskforce to ensure optimum production of basic commodities in the country.

"We are not only looking at the production of fertilizer, but the entire economic spectrum to ensure sufficient production of basic commodities.

"Our mandate is to ensure that companies that produce basic commodities are closely monitored to ensure sufficient production," Cde Mpofu said.

Government appreciated challenges facing local companies and commended the central bank for making timely interventions.

"The RBZ has been intervening quite commendably. As Cabinet, we are monitoring these companies to ensure sufficient production of basic commodities."

Cabinet was concerned that some of the companies that had received support were channelling goods to the black market.

Cde Mpofu said companies that had received support from the RBZ were contracted to produce goods on Government’s behalf.

He pledged Government’s support to fertilizer-producing companies to ensure a successful summer cropping season.

During the tour, the taskforce heard that Zimphos required timely financial support from Government to import raw materials and for equipment maintenance.

Cde Mpofu said Government would follow up on the Basic Commodities Supply Side Intervention facility with other programmes.

He expressed dismay that the country was importing some basic commodities that could be manufactured locally in large quantities.

"There is no reason why we should import sugar when we are producing it in excess locally. Because of some unscrupulous activities, we are forced to import goods that we produce locally in abundance."

Finance Minister Cde Samuel Mumbengegwi said Zimphos highlighted its concerns to the taskforce and Government would marshal the necessary resources to ensure a successful summer farming season.

"Zimphos told us of their requirements and we are now mobilising the resources to prepare for the summer season," he said.

President Mugabe last week warned fertilizer companies that they faced prosecution unless they made available 25 000 tonnes of the commodity that they promised to supply after accessing US$10 million from the RBZ in April.

Government has already promised farmers that the fertilizer would be available before the start of the new season.

Farmer organisations also complained that fertilizer companies were holding the nation to ransom by constantly failing to produce on time.

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