By Daniel Chigundu
DIAPER and sanitary pads manufacturing firm Refreshing Sanitary Pads has applauded Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa for scrapping duty on importation of raw material for sanitary wear.
Zimbabwe currently has two companies that manufacture sanitary wear, that is Refreshing Sanitary Pads and Onsdale which trade as Farai, but they have been facing challenges with regards to importation of raw materials and loyalty of consumers to international brands.
Presenting the 2017 National Budget, minister Chinamasa said local companies have potential to grow and meet local demand but face challenges of high costs of raw material importation and that he was scrapping duty on importation of raw materials with effect from 1 January 2017.
In an interview with The Business Connect, Refreshing Sanitary Pads merchandising manager CollenSakala said the scrapping of duty is a welcome development to the sector as it will help maintain prices of products.
“The scrapping of duty helps us a lot in maintaining the current price although there is a new challenge of price increase from our suppliers due to international changes. On our products mostly around 75 percent of our raw materials are imports so the scrapping of duty will go a long way in cushioning the sanitary pads cost.
“However it will be very difficult to maintain the price given the bank challenges we are facing in buying raw materials. Raw material prices increased by 27 percent, there is Zesa load shedding and payment from customers is taking long to get into our accounts. The government has helped us, but a lot needs to be done, I think there is need for a dialogue between government and the private sector,” he said.
Sakala added that companies in the country have benefited a lot from Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016, which was introduced earlier this year.
The Refreshing Sanitary Pads merchandising manager said the good intentions of SI64 are being hampered by the challenges that companies are facing in accessing money from banks to purchase raw materials.
“SI64 has helped us a lot especially on sales, it has helped increase production, created employment but the challenge is we can’t access our money from the bank to buy raw materials. We are now facing challenges to get money to replace our out-dated machines, but basically SI64 is one of the best ever policy implemented by the government but liquidity constraints remain the stumbling block.
“We engaged the ministry of finance on the issues of duty, it went through but now the challenge is the money issues in banks and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe,” he said.
Sakala also revealed that business is booming and they are looking at supplying the Sadc region, although they currently have raw materials to last up to January.
Refreshing Sanitary Pads manufactures such products as Happy Sky sanitary pads, Happy Sky Baby diapers, Happy Sky pant liners and tissues.
The company is also working on introducing a new range of tissues into the market in the near future.–