PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe said reforms that the government is implementing to boost economic recovery and tackle poverty are beginning to bear fruit as he called on Zimbabweans to remain united and work hard for prosperity.
Delivering the 2016 State of the Nation Address in Parliament largely inclined towards achievements of the 10 Point Plan and Zim Asset, President Mugabe lauded Zimbabweans for their resilience in enduring “all manner of economic hardships” in nearly two decades.
“I wish to commend them for their resilience, and urge them to cherish the peace and tranquility that continues to be the envy of many,” he said.
“Let us continue to find national pride in our core values of unity, hard work and freedom.”
President Robert Mugabe said the country would pursue the social contract and resuscitate the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) for Government, labour and business with the primary focus on reducing cost of doing business and creating an investor friendly environment.
“Time is ripe to pursue the social contract, investor friendly policies should be strengthened and good corporate governance as well as policy consistency should be vigorously pursued,” he said.
The TNF is a voluntary social dialogue platform, bringing together Government, business and labour to discuss socio-economic progress.
In order to spearhead the 10-point plan and the ZimAsset economic blueprint, Government had introduced measures aimed at stimulating the economy and protect local production in local industry.
“Economic sectors that have been the major focus of Government include the mining, agriculture construction and manufacturing. Our major objective is to increase local capacity and become a competitive supplier,” he said.
“Our major objective is to increase local capacity, create a skilled workforce and become a competitive supplier base,” he said.
Import restrictions government introduced recently on certain goods had assisted boost local production mainly in the plastic, packaging and food manufacturing industries as well as cut
import dependence, President Mugabe said.
“A number of companies that have seen immediate benefits of government measures include those in the packaging and plastic manufacturing namely Nampack, Tregers and Proplastics.
Policy reform was also being accelerated to address corruption, improve performance of the agriculture sector, unlock investment and the potential of small and medium enterprises as well as to foster financial stability.
“The reforms are meant to both rejuvenate the national economy and contribute to poverty reduction,” he said.
President Mugabe spoke of possible job losses as the government was “re-aligning and restructuring” the civil service structure to make it more effective through addressing duplications, abolishing redundant posts and overlaps among Ministries.
“The resultant effect would be leaner and flatter structures that are economic and would thus enhance effective and quality service delivery,” he said.
He said a microfinance bank, capitalized to the tune of $10 million, was soon to be established to assist in financing small to medium enterprises and cooperatives, which had become critical players in the growth of the economy.
The SMEs sector accounts for the bulk of employment in the country as the formal sector had largely shrinked over the years due to economic challenges.
A Women’s Micro-Finance Bank would also be established to empower women, he said.
To boost agriculture production and assure the country’s food security, President Mugabe said command agriculture programs had been introduced for maize and small grains production targeting a
minimum of two million tonnes of maize.
The country is currently importing grain to address food shortages being faced as a result of a devastating drought in the past seasons.
Government has imported over 300 000 tonnes of maize while over 200 000 tonnes has been delivered to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) by local farmers. He said the private sector has also imported over 25 000 tonnes of maize while development partners have mobilized in excess of $360 mln for grain.
President Mugabe said the mining sector will continue to contribute significantly towards export receipts particularly from gold, platinum, diamonds, ferrochrome and nickel. He said artisanal miners also continue to make significant growth in gold production. Tourism contribution is seen surpassing prior year levels. FinX