Printing industry appeals for protection policy

By Staff reporter | 11 Feb 2020 at 12:21hrs
Printing industry appeals for protection policy Directory Publishers managing director Mr Brad Beale stresses a point to Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce Cde Raj Modi during a tour of the company in Belmont, Bulawayo last week. - Picture by Eliah
THE printing industry has called on Government to enact policies that will allow all the country's textbooks to be printed locally to support economic growth through employment creation and curbing foreign currency externalisation.

This emerged during a tour of companies in the printing and packaging industry by Industry and Commerce Deputy Minister Raj Modi in Bulawayo last week.

The Deputy Minister visited Directory Publishers, Polyfoil Zimbabwe and Treger Plastics to hear their concerns and policy suggestions that would address their plight.

Federation of Master of Printers of Zimbabwe chairman Mr Benison Ntini said local firms have adequate capacity to service all printing tenders.

"Because of the confidence we have in the economy we were encouraging our players to think big, go out there and compete with South Africa.

"Suddenly, we are losing it as we say we have no control over it (external printing of textbooks) because Unicef will tell us where things will be done," he said.

"These textbooks are for our children and our grandchildren. Tanzania, Ghana and countries like that, if you want to fund their textbooks, they will accept your donation but they will tell you they will print them locally because its economic sabotage in a way."

In the past, Mr Ntini said Ghana had its printing industry closed down when they allowed school textbooks to be printed outside for a couple of times as the local industry faced competition from external counterparts.

"Ghana had an interesting experience when they allowed their textbooks to be printed from outside the country for a couple of times, companies closed and when everybody closed, the external printers then said we can produce them for you but in our country.

"Faced with that situation, as a country you will need more than 100 percent of forex to print any textbook and you would have destroyed your locals.

"In the long term, we will destroy these guys (local printers) and the donors will tell us we helped you for five years, we no longer have money to do the donations," he said.

Mr Ntini said it was important for the country to emulate Ghana and Tanzania, among others that do not allow their textbooks to be printed outside.

"All we are asking for is money and let that money, a fraction of it, be used to procure raw materials. The rest of it (forex) must circulate in the economy," he said.

During the same occasion, Directory Publishers managing director Mr Brad Beale said the domestic printing industry has the capacity to supply the local market and thus there was a need for the Government to promulgate laws that prevent the printing of textbooks outside the country.

"I can say these things (textbooks) can be printed in Zimbabwe at the right quality and price.

"We just need support where all the textbooks can be produced locally and that will turn around our industry and a lot of companies.

"You'll probably see employment levels for a lot of companies in the sector doubling or tripling," he said.

Mr Beale said his organisation has the potential to produce 80 percent of the textbooks that are bought locally but because of the existing policy, Directory Publishers was producing only 20 percent of the textbooks available in schools.

"The other 80 percent are all imported. So, our appeal is to try and keep the manufacturing of textbooks local because that will benefit the whole country as well as supporting the Government's Vision 2030," he said.



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