Source: Govt gears up for industrialisation | The Herald June 28, 2017
Africa Moyo in VICTORIA FALLS
GOVERNMENT is working flat out to ensure the country becomes a hub of industrialisation, commerce and international trade as part of a well-orchestrated move to empower its citizens to become masters of their own destiny, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.
Speaking while officially opening the annual Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) congress here yesterday, VP Mnangagwa said several policy pronouncements have been made while other laws are being amended to create a world-class investment climate.
VP Mnangagwa rallied all citizens, in particular the private sector, to take up the challenge and ensure the country becomes a business centre for excellence.
“As Government, we are desirous that Zimbabwe becomes a hub for industrialisation, commerce and international trade in the quest of achieving an ‘empowered society and a growing economy’,” said VP Mnangagwa.
The call comes at time when the World Bank has projected a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 2,3 percent for Zimbabwe this year, according to the June 2017 Global Economic Prospects Report.
Owing to the encouraging GDP forecast by the World Bank, VP Mnangagwa urged citizens to have a “collective obligation to harness their strength, competencies, skills, as well as the country’s factor endowments to meet or surpass this growth potential”.
VP Mnangagwa said Government remains committed to crafting an enabling environment which ensures success of business, industry and commerce, while guaranteeing the majority of citizens are masters of their own destiny, who are empowered and enjoy a high quality of life in tandem with the aspirations of ZimAsset.
Chief among Zim-Asset’s goals is the creation of an empowered society and a growing economy. VP Mnangagwa said Government envisages a society where socio-economic development and investment are not confined to major cities, but should cascade to “the most remote and vulnerable places in our country”.
However, he warned that reviving and sustaining an upward economic trajectory requires key ingredients such as robust economic reforms, good corporate governance, hard work and diligence.
“To this end, Government continues working on improving exports through the Rapid Results Initiative (RRI) on Ease of Doing Export Business. “In the same vein, various reforms across the entire private and public sector are being implemented to improve the ease of doing business and create a vibrant industrial and export sector, anchored on productivity,” said VP Mnangagwa.
Government is currently seized with reforming the investment environment based on 10 global indices of doing business including removing red tape in registering companies and access to capital and market, among others.
So far, significant progress has been made in drafting eight pieces of legislation which include the National Competitiveness Act (Chapter 14:36)(No.6 of 2017); the Deeds Registries Amendment Act (No.8 of 2017) and the Judicial Laws Amendment Act (Ease of Settling Commercial and Other Disputes) Act (No.7 of 2017).
Thirteen other Statutory Instruments have been identified for amendment and of these, 11 have already been amended and gazetted while only two are outstanding.
VP Mnangagwa added that there are also nine Bills that have been drafted to ease the process of doing business in the country. “These are at various stages of completion and provide major tenets to improving the ease of doing business in Zimbabwe. The Bills aim at improving the investment climate and lure prospective investors to our beloved nation,” he said.
Government believes the external sector still remains a threat to a strong recovery due to weak exports resulting in an unsustainable trade deficit, although imports have been decelerating owing to the positive effects of SI64 of 2016.
VP Mnangagwa said the implementation of SI64 of 2016 has resulted in the resuscitation of a number of companies and critically, the setting up of new ones such as Trade Kings Zimbabwe and South Africa’s Willowton Group, in some supported sectors such as cooking oil and soap making.
To address the external sector challenges, Government has enacted the Special Economic Zones Act in December last year, which is expected to boost investment through the imminent establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs). This week, Government announced the SEZs Board which is headed by former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor Dr Gideon Gono.
VP Mnangagwa yesterday said some Chinese investors have already expressed interest in ploughing their funds into the SEZs following the Zimbabwe-China Zhejiang Province Investment Conference where Memoranda of Understanding were signed under which the Chinese would explore investment opportunities in the country and construct an industrial park. “I am happy to announce that ever since the signing into law of the Bill, we have had numerous enquiries from investors who are interested in investing into various sectors of the economy under the SEZs facility.
“I therefore, invite bona-fide local and foreign potential investors to come on board and seize the vast trade and investment opportunities available in various sectors and engage in projects that yield fair returns whilst benefiting our country and its people, in a win-win situation in terms of the country’s statutes,” said VP Mnangagwa.
Currently, three pilot SEZs have been earmarked for Harare (Sunway City Integrated Park), Victoria Falls (Integrated Tourism Park) and Bulawayo (Industrial Hub).
Crucially, Government is carrying out austerity measures to restructure the national budget by reducing the wage bill to avoid “crowding out capital expenditure and social spending”. “This will leave the fiscal space to ensure service delivery and restrain unnecessary borrowing,” said VP Mnangagwa.
He added that Government is also implementing supply side stimuli measures in various sector of the economy including Command Agriculture (Special Programme on Maize Production for Import Substitution and Grain Importation).
Other supply-side measures include recapitalising mines through joint ventures; and financing arrangements to augment local companies’ recapitalisation in a bid to increase domestic supply and exports.
VP Mnangagwa said the manufacturing sector was also critical in the country’s quest for economic turnaround, so as to restore the sector’s contribution to GDP as well as increasing export earnings. “In this regard, the private sector should be the engine for economic recovery and growth in Zimbabwe,” he said.
Meanwhile, VP Mnangagwa said the financial sector is a strategic partner in financing the economy from being a primary producer to a producer of diversified manufactured products and services.
He said industry, commerce, insurance, agro-processing, manufacturing and international trade thrive on vibrant financial sector characterised by depositors’ confidence, depositor funds protection, performing loans and reasonable lending rates.
VP Mnangagwa urged banks to reduce “charges on the use of plastic money” so as to promote its adoption by everyone including the peri-urban and rural folk.
“This cumulative demand for cash will be tamed to zero if the cost of transacting using debit cards is negligible. “Charges on the use of plastic money are considerably high as compared with those of other countries within the region. I therefore urge banks to consider reviewing these transaction costs downwards,” said VP Mnangagwa.
The ZNCC congress is running under the theme, “Consolidating the new normal economy through policy reforms”.