Relief for Glass Industry

THE glass industry, which was heading towards the graveyard because of the crippling foreign currency shortage, has been spared from imminent collapse, thanks to the novel foreign exchange auction system.

While the amount allocated to the sector so far could not be immediately ascertained, players in the industry this week expressed satisfaction with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's efforts to spread the scarce resource across all the critical sectors of the economy.The glass industry is an integral part of the construction and property sectors.In the past, it had come under severe strain from the shortage of foreign currency that constricted its ability to import spares and other critical equipment.

PG Glass, a subsidiary of Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed PG Industries, has applauded the system as a dose of relief to the once crumbling sector.

The PG subsidiary, which was in the recent past unable to source sufficient foreign currency to purchase glass, said:"Some relief was obtained towards the end of March 2004 when some success was achieved through the Reserve Bank auction floor system."

The auction floor system, introduced in January this year, has made available foreign currency to most bidders. There is concern, however, that the number of bidders has far outweighed sellers, a situation that might result in the depreciation of the local currency as well as reducing the amounts allocated to buyers.

Clifford Ngomo, the acting managing director for Kwekwe-based Zimbabwe Glass Industries Limited, shared PG's sentiments.

"We have managed to get foreign currency through the auction floors. This has enabled us to purchase spares for our machinery from abroad," said Ngomo.

To further substantiate the survival of the industry amid challenging economic conditions, the Productive Sector Facility, which offers concessional interest rates, has made available funds to enhance production of the fragile product.

Major glass manufacturers include Zimglass, AI Glass Aluminium Systems, Gweru-based Waterglass, Kopje Glass and Glass Build.

600450 Relief for Glass Industry glassonweb.com

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