Premier licensed for tobacco marketing season

1302-2-1-TOBACCO SALES FLOORThe Tobacco Industry Marketing Board has licensed three auction floors, including Premier Tobacco Auction Floor, for the 2015 marketing season that begins on March 4.

\n

There were fears that Premier Tobacco was not going to meet the stress tests because of claims of mounting debts.

\n

TIMB board chairperson Mrs Monica Chinamasa recently gave assurances to the market that the regulator was fair and strict in issuing out licences.

\n

“(Auctioneers) apply and are assessed according to the minimum requirements of the TIMB and if they meet those requirements, then they will be licensed,” she said.

\n

Mrs Chinamasa added: “There is no need to fear that farmers will not get their money when the auctioneer closes because the auctioneers do not buy tobacco, it is bought merchants and it is the merchants who avail the money. All that auctioneers do it to disburse the money to respective farmers…

\n

“As long as they apply, we tell them our requirements and when they meet them, we have no reason to refuse anyone a license based on what they have done in the past.

\n

“We try as much as we can to be fair. I don’t think it will be fair to say ‘because you were once with a company that folded, so we will not give you a license.

\n

However, we will always try to avoid licensing many tobacco auction floors.”

\n

Although Premier Tobacco was reportedly being suffocated by a US$400 000 debt, the firm’s managing director Mr Philemon Mangena said its financial obligations had no material impact on its operations.

\n

“We have secured all our debts with immovable property and we are determined to clear them.

\n

In any case, most companies are struggling in the current environment and we are not unique or immune to these challenges.

\n

“These debts will have no effect on our operations and we would like to assure all farmers that they will all be paid on time, just as was the case last season.

\n

“Those that know how the system works will appreciate that we are providing infrastructure to facilitate the interface between the farmers and their crop and the buyers of their tobacco.

\n

“The buyers are the ones that provide the money to pay the farmers and we only facilitate payment of farmers, which in essence invalidates claims that farmers might be prejudiced of their money,” he said.

\n

Premier Tobacco, the smallest of the three auction floors in Harare, has been operating for the past three years.

\n

Stakeholders have indicated that this year’s target of 220 million kilogrammes of tobacco will be met.

\n

A total of 216 million kg of Virginia tobacco were delivered last earning the country US$684 million.

\n

Over 88 640 farmers have registered to grow the crop this season compared to 88 281 last year.