MUTARE – Lands, Agricultural, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement minister Perrance Shiri has demanded State-owned companies under his purview to start making a profit and pay dividends, in a renewed attempt by the government to squeeze quasi firms to plug holes in the National Budget.
Shiri told a 2018 strategic planning workshop last week that government was closely monitoring the feasibility of parastatals under his ministry.
“I expect parastatals under my ministry to positively contribute to the GDP and declare dividends… The government is looking at the viability of the current parastatals and what they are contributing to the GDP.
“There should be justification for the formation of parastatals and they are usually planted at strategic areas to ensure the continued flow of raw materials or continued stability of employment in the country,” Shiri said.
The dividend decree follows a similar demand made earlier in the year but was largely overlooked.
However, market analysts expect broad adoption of the order next year with negotiations to take place on a company-by-company basis.
Shiri said the nation was looking up to the agricultural sector to turn around the economy and hopes it contributes 16 to 20 percent of the country’s GDP and 40 percent of all export earnings, whilst providing solid livelihoods to 67 percent of the populace.
Zimbabwe has an agriculture-based economy which collapsed at the back of violent farm invasions and seizure at the turn of the millennium.
However, the sector has been on the mend but is still grappling with a plethora of problems.
“Some of the major challenges facing the agriculture sector include very low production and productivity levels across all sectors, high output costs, low levels of irrigation and limited access to financial services by all categories of farmers,” the minister said.
He challenged the heads of departments under his ministry to execute their duties efficiently if the ministry is to achieve its mandate as set out in the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) and the Draft Zimbabwe Agriculture Policy Framework (2018-2030).
“Therefore my expectations from this workshop are guided by vision 2030 and the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (2018-2020), where it is no longer business as usual.
“The culture of taking ages to attend to pertinent issues will not and cannot be tolerated and the whole nation is looking up to this ministry to make a significant contribution towards the much-anticipated turnaround of our economy,” Shiri said.