BY TAURAI MANGUDHLA
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday stuck with the 7,8% growth projection announced by the Ministry of Finance in July, as he opened the fourth session of the ninth parliament, defying recent inflation surges and volatile black market foreign currency exchange rates.
Mnangagwa said he will sign 42 Bills into law during the session, which runs until mid-2023.
These include the amendments to key economic and financial legal instruments such as the Securities Exchange Act and the deposit protection law.
Mnangagwa, who spoke during the state of the nation address and the opening of the session, said the growth was despite the fact that there had been disruptions to company operations due to Covid-19 induced lockdowns, which restricted movement and trading hours.
Mnangagwa said the higher predictions are premised on the good 2020/21 agriculture season; firm international mineral commodity prices; a recovering manufacturing sector; stable inflation and exchange rate; as well as the containment of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He also said the financial sector was stable with the foreign currency auction performing well and accessed by both large and small-to-medium-size businesses.
“Thirteen Bills are still with the respective line ministries, of these, the principles of two Bills have been approved by Cabinet, while 11 are still with ministries. The Second Republic will continue to maintain its responsive and proactive stance to emerging needs of our society by ensuring that the law is a tool for development,” Mnangagwa said.
The Zanu PF leader also said his government is committed to ratifying all outstanding Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements.
“Furthermore, Parliament is also expected to ratify the Marrakesh Agreement establishing the World Trade Organisation. In the health sector, this Session is expected to expedite consideration of the Medical Services Amendment Bill; the Medical Aid Societies Bill; and the Health Professions Amendment Bill,” he said.
“These should result in a consolidated legislative strategy to achieve Universal Health Coverage, enhanced access and affordable health services.”
In the financial services sector, Mnangagwa said, the Insurance and Pensions Commission (Ipec) Bill is set to empower Ipec to prescribe a minimum level of assets and liabilities while establishing the Protection Fund for Policy holders and Pensions and Provident Fund members.
The Securities and Exchange Act, he said, should be amended to widen the definition of Securities to include Virtual Asset Service Providers in order to enable the Securities and Exchange Commission to regulate and supervise Virtual Assets Service Providers on a risk-based approach.
“This will be complemented by amendments to the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act. The envisioned Act seeks to provide for the identification and assessment of money laundering and terrorist financing risks that may arise in relation to virtual assets,” he said.
“It will further ensure that appropriate sanctions are applicable to errant Virtual Assets Service Providers, their directors and senior managers. The Deposit Protection Corporation Act is also being amended to align the legislation to international best practice.”
Through the Labour Amendment Bill, the dispute settlement machinery will also be rationalised to remove cumbersome confirmation procedures.
The labour amendment seeks to align the Labour Act with ratified International Labour Organisation Conventions, including freedom of association, the right to maternity leave and equal remuneration for work of equal value.
Among the amendments is also the Cooperative Societies Act in view of the changes in the socioeconomic environment and the need to restructure operations, efficiencies and growth of cooperatives.
The move is meant to enhance good governance, transparency and accountability among Private Voluntary Organisations, the Act governing these entities is going to be amended.
Mnangagwa said the Bill seeks to align the Act with best practices, including on adherence to the Financial Action Task Force Standards.
“Proposed amendments will further ensure that PVOs operate within the thematic parameters, under which they are registered.
“The Persons with Disabilities Bill is set to amend the 1992 Disabled Persons Act, informed by other contemporary legislation on disability rights,” he said.