THE Government has lifted the ban on the importation of edible oils to mitigate the rising price of cooking oil on the domestic market, Parliament has heard.
Agriculture Minister Given Lubinda said in a ministerial statement yesterday that the decision was intended to meet domestic demand for the commodity by promoting competition among retailers and wholesalers.
Mr Lubinda said that importation of edible oils was suspended this year with a view to promoting the local industry, but some oil processors took advantage of the ban and increased prices.
The minister issued the statement to appraise the House on maize marketing and the Government’s intervention of stabilising the cost of cooking oil, mealie meal and bread.
“To help mitigate rising domestic prices of edible oils, Government has decided to allow limited importation of processed edible oils. This measure is intended to meet domestic demand and to bring in a level of competition on the local market,” Mr Lubinda said.
Mr Lubinda said strict control measures had been put in place to ensure that importers adhered to procedural obligations so that the import policy was not abused.
The Government has since entered the milling business to stabilise the cost of the commodity for the benefit of consumers.
He said it was unfortunate that private millers had failed to secure enough maize for processing, hence they attributed the increase in commodity prices to inadequate raw materials.
“Government will no longer be arm-twisted to allow the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) release maize which is intended for the strategic reserve to private millers,” Mr Lubinda said.