WB warms up to Zim funding

via WB warms up to Zim funding | The Herald May 21, 2015

WORLD Bank Group executive director Mr Louis Rene Peter Larose has urged international financial institutions to channel more funding to Zimbabwean companies, saying on his part he would push the global bank to bankroll the country’s economic revival.

Mr Larose and his delegation are in the country together with African Development Bank (AfDB) representatives to assess the economic situation with a view to extending funding to the different sectors of the economy.

The delegation was in Bulawayo yesterday where it conducted a tour of several companies and public institutions and had interface with captains of industry.

“Seeing is believing and I’ve been here. For me the Zimbabwean economy has great potential and of course I’ll be making a strong case for Zimbabwe at the World Bank and all the international donor agencies to make sure we bring a total package for Zimbabwe because we believe we’ve a lot to contribute,” said Mr Larose in an interview during the tour.

Zimbabwe is struggling to access lines of credit from global finance houses that include the International Monetary Fund (IMF) following illegal sanctions imposed on the country by Britain and its Western allies.

The sanctions have compromised the country’s global trade and worsened its risk factor – a critical element in attracting foreign direct investment.

Liquidity constraints have adversely affected industrial capacity utilisation which is now about 30 percent, according to the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries. This has forced many companies to close resulting in loss of jobs.

Mr Larose said the World Bank was familiarising itself with the development situation in Zimbabwe to see how best the financial institution could assist in finding solutions to the challenges facing the economy.

“It’s my first time to be in Bulawayo and I’m very impressed by what is taking place. I feel that the World Bank should support these companies and certainly this will create employment as well as boost economic growth,” he said.

The country requires about $27 billion to turn around the economy and create more than two million jobs guided by the Government’s five-year development blueprint, Zim-Asset (2013-18).

The blueprint is anchored on four clusters – value addition and beneficiation, food security and nutrition, infrastructure and utilities, social services and poverty eradication.

Zimbabwe is struggling to clear its foreign debt of close to $10 billion due to poor economic performance.

Meanwhile, the delegation, that was accompanied by Industry and Commerce Ministry Permanent Secretary Ms Abigail Shonhiwa and other senior Government officials, visited Dunlop Zimbabwe, Archer Clothing, the National Railways of Zimbabwe, the Cold Storage Company, Mpilo Central Hospital and Bulawayo Water Works.

Mr Larose said companies such as the NRZ deserved urgent financial support to ensure a vibrant rail transport system.

“I believe the NRZ should be assisted because its services will not only benefit Zimbabwe but neighbouring countries as well,” he said.

Ms Shonhiwa said the visit was crucial as it was part of re-engagement efforts with global financial institutions.

“We’re here to accompany the team from AfDB and the World Bank so that they have an appreciation of what Zimbabwe has to offer, the potential that is there,” she said.

The delegation began its tour in Harare on Tuesday and concludes its visit with a tour of Gweru today.