Call to expedite creation of SEZs Authority

Source: Call to expedite creation of SEZs Authority – Sunday News November 13, 2016

Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
CAPTAINS of industry are calling on the Government to expedite the setting up of the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) Authority so as to ensure improved inflow of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs).

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president Mr Busisa Moyo said the signing of the SEZs Bill into law by President Mugabe two weeks ago was a major breakthrough towards formulation of policies that attracted FDIs into the country.

The enactment of the SEZs Act sets the tone for the setting-up of special SEZs after five years of working and consultations on the crafting of the document.

“As you know CZI has been involved with the promotion and lobbying for the concept of Special Economic Zones for years.

We see this as a breakthrough in that we can formulate policies that encourage FDI and new business to flourish and create employment.

“We now urge that implementation be swift in creating the SEZ Authority which will oversee activities and demarcation of such zones around the country. Dialogue around implementation with entrepreneurs and potential investors is now key,” said Mr Moyo.

He said at $305 million to June this year, investment into the country was still very low contributing two percent to the country Gross Domestic Product.

Association for Business in Zimbabwe chief executive officer Dr Lucky Mlilo said the passing of the SEZs Bill into law was a welcome development but hinted that there was a need for concerted efforts by the Government and the private sector to ensure its successful implementation.

“We expect the Central Government and private sector to play their crucial roles in order to ensure successful implementation of these SEZs. We have waited for a long time for this Bill to be passed into law and we hope we won’t wait forever for the implementation of the SEZs,” Dr Mlilo said.

Bulawayo-based economist Dr Bongani Ngwenya said the country should take a leaf from China which has managed to successfully integrate SEZs into its economic reform agenda.

“What remains to be seen now, is the political will to implement the SEZs economic reform agenda in Zimbabwe. I am afraid, on the other hand, the lack of urgency, the business as usual attitude that our Government has will likely stall the implementation of the programme,” said Dr Ngwenya.

He also said much was needed in ensuring a conducive environment to attract potential foreign investors.

“Remember, there is still that negative perception overhang by the international community. In the meantime the programme may be quite attractive to domestic investment, but more still has to be done for it to attract the FDI that Zimbabwe so desperately needs right now,” said Dr Ngwenya.

The Government has selected three locations namely the Sunway City Integrated Industrial Park in Harare, the Victoria Falls financial hub and the Bulawayo industrial hub would be used for trial runs before the SEZ initiative is spread to the rest of the country.

An SEZ is an area in which business and trade laws differ from the rest of the country. SEZs are located within a country’s national borders, and their aims include increased trade, increased investment, job creation and effective administration.