Source: Speed up ‘Ease of Doing Business’ | The Herald September 10, 2019
Lovemore Chikova Assistant Editor
There is need for Government and its agencies to quicken the pace in ensuring the ease of doing business reforms being undertaken take effect.
The reforms are spot on as the ease of doing business will ensure that the country attracts more investors in future.
Investors are always on the lookout for countries where they will be able to set up their business without hassles, and where they can rip their rewards.
The ease of doing business is one of the croteria which investors are interested in when considering where to take their capital.
This is why the launch of the 2020-2021 edition of the ease of doing business reform programme last week was important.
The launch brought together various stakeholders who pointed out how the ease of doing business will enhance their operations and help attract investors to the country.
It is important that issues that have been affecting the ease of doing business are tackled by stakeholders, in conjunction with the Government.
Some of the work is already being done and is at different stages of implementation to ensure that when investors come to the country they are not stuck in old traditions.
Quickening up the reforms will ensure that the country leaps forward much faster than anticipated.
A re-look at regulations and laws governing business is one of the important aspects that need to be speeded up.
In this case, it is envisaged that the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency (ZIDA), which is being set up, will integrate all laws and institutions that govern investments.
The ZIDA Bill is still before the National Assembly at the Second Reading Stage and it is expected that once it is passed, the agency will be in place.
The Bill will repeal some Acts governing investments like the Special Economic Zones Act, the Zimbabwe Investment Authority Act and the Joint Ventures Act.
Apart from repealing these laws, the ZIDA Bill will establish a one-stop shop that will handle all issues related to investment and set up desks for various stakeholders under one roof.
This is envisaged to bring efficiency in the handing of investors, especially when it comes to setting up their companies and acquiring the necessary documents.
What is critical is for the country to address all challenges that confront investors in terms of regulations, laws, policies and procedures as quickly as possible.
This calls for regular reviewing of the obtaining guidelines so that they are always in sync with the demands of the day.
Zimbabwe’s ranking on the World Bank’s ease of doing business index is still not satisfactory, as it came at 155 out 190 countries in 2018.
This shows that there are still many bottlenecks which need to be attended to if more investors are going to have an interest in the country.
The processes being done to enhance the ease of doing business are all aimed at making sure the country becomes an upper middle income economy by 2030.
This vision, propagated by President Mnangagwa, will not be easy to achieve without a drastic shift from how stakeholders lessen the burden for the prospective investors.
Considering the mammoth task at hand, it is clear that the pace with which the stakeholders are moving to address the concerns is slow.
For example, the ZIDA Bill was first gazetted on April 5 and since then it has been stuck in the National Assembly, as legislators continue to haggle over some of its provisions.
It is imperative that legislators comprehensively debate the Bill so that they pass a perfect law, but that should be done considering the background of the importance of such a law.
There are many other issues that need urgent Government attention to ensure that investors find the business climate in the country tenable for their businesses.
Municipalities should work with Government to ensure that their water provision systems are up to scratch because the erratic supplies being witnessed at the moment are not good for business.
Government is already paying attention to the road network, with hundreds of kilometres having already been rehabilitated to ensure the smooth flow of traffic.
A poor road and rail system is bound to discourage potential investors as they will not be able to move their goods timeously.
The air transport system also needs due attention, especially for Air Zimbabwe to become efficient once again so that investors can rely on it once more.
Investors in a sector like horticulture will need an operational Air Zimbabwe to move their perishable goods to their markets as quickly as possible.
Electricity shortages are also one of the major issues that is bound to discourage prospective investors.
Although Government has been working to ensure that power supplies become normal, permanent solutions need to be found so that even in times of drought, the country remains lit up.
The ease of doing business is directly linked to the attraction of foreign direct investment (FDI) which is widely viewed as a major contributor to the development of a country.
FDI is now a source for private capital inflow and advanced technologies that have the potential to change the status quo of a country.
Apart from technology, FDI is a source of skills transfer and innovative capacity for any country.
FDI, if handled well, can also led to employment creation and an increase in exports.
Issues that confront the country when it comes to the ease of doing business need to be addressed in a practical way to ensure conditions that attract investors are in place.
What is needed is to make Zimbabwe a competitive destination for foreign capital, and that should be done as quickly as possible.