Willdale laments ‘rapid policy changes’

Source: Willdale laments ‘rapid policy changes’ – DailyNews Live

BUSINESS WRITER      9 January 2019

HARARE – Willdale has expressed concern over recent government policy
changes, which have been largely blamed for worsening the country’s
deteriorating economic situation.

Government implemented a number of abrupt reforms, shortly after the
controversial July harmonised elections, headlined by the introduction of
a two percent tax on electronic funds transfer as well as the separation
of bank accounts for Nostro and RTGS funds.

Although the economy was in an undesirable state before the nippy reforms,
there has been a marked deterioration, with official inflation spiking to
a post-dollarisation high of 31,01 percent from 4,29 percent in July amid
the worsening of hard currency shortages.

“The policy changes being undertaken by government under the Transitional
Stabilisation Programme have presented challenges to business,” Willdale’s
board chairperson Cleophas Makoni said in a comment accompanying the
company’s financial results for the year ended September 30, 2018.

“The volatile economic conditions have presented challenges in maintaining
cordial industrial relations and productivity,” he added.

Makoni, however, said the company posted a good set of results “despite
the difficult operating environment which was characterised by shortages
of foreign currency and rapid policy changes by the new government
dispensation aimed at growing the economy”.

Revenues grew by 38 percent to $13,4 million compared to the prior year
“driven by a three percent increase in volumes and a 34 percent increase
in average prices”.

Overall, the company posted a $1,109 million profit from a profit of $304
906 in the prior comparable period.

Makoni said the company has optimal production capacity to meet demand
“but its exploitation is dependent on the availability of fuel and foreign
currency for plant spares”.

“Productivity improvement is dependent upon timely and efficient sourcing
of raw materials, good plant availability and utilisation,” he said.

Shortages of fuel and foreign currency have however intensified in the
heat of the current economic crisis.

In November, the minister unveiled a budget that introduced increases in
import duty for fuel while duty for selected goods – including motor
vehicles – will now be charged in foreign currency.

The measures, which were meant to eliminate “arbitrage” and curb foreign
currency leakages, worsened the situation after the economy slid further
into crisis following the implementation of the reforms in December.

Still, Willdale was upbeat about the focus of the budget.

“We are encouraged by the positive thrust of the 2019 National Budget
which is targeting significant expenditure in infrastructure development,
investment in the housing sector, and construction of accommodation
facilities in the higher education sector.

“The company has strategies to exploit the opportunities and manage
threats presented by the transformation of the economy,” Makoni said.