Govt’s thrust on economic revival welcome
FOR a long time Zimbabwe’s economy has been strangled by lack of access to finance among a string of hurdles that have resulted in suppressed production in key sectors. This necessitates urgent reform processes to open new investment opportunities. Trends across the globe have shown that it takes a legislative push to create a favourable investment atmosphere. Hence Zimbabwe has embarked on a business climate reform drive aimed at unlocking more economic opportunities.
We feel President Mugabe’s address on Thursday, where he set the agenda for the Fourth Session of the Eighth Parliament in Harare, buttresses this thrust as it sets the tone for tackling the inherent barriers to growth.
The highlights of the address show that the Government is indeed aware of the realities that plague our economy and is focused on reversing economic stagnation, which cannot be feasible outside access to finance.
In this regard the President revealed that entrepreneurs without immovable property like houses will soon be able to access loans from financial institutions using vehicles, livestock and furniture as collateral security under the proposed Movable Property Security Interest Bill. We feel the passing of this Bill into law would immensely benefit thousands of indigenous farmers and small to medium enterprises that seem to hold the keys to this country’s economy.
“This Session of Parliament will also consider the Movable Property Security Interest Bill, which seeks to increase access to credit for the majority of our emerging entrepreneurs.
“A collateral registry will be established to facilitate the use of movable property, including cars, livestock and furniture, as collateral for loans,” said President Mugabe.
This Bill would be complemented by similar instruments such as the Zimbabwe Investment Authority Amendment Bill, set to provide legal underpinning to the One-Stop-Shop Investment Centre and the Amended Special Economic Zones Act, after its passage in Parliament, which will also be brought during this session. The legislation is expected to boost the country’s capacity to attract world-class investment, employment creation, technology transfer and innovation in strategic areas of the country’s economy.
Other Bills lined up for consideration are the Constitutional Court Bill, the Rural District Council Bill, the Traditional Leaders’ Bill, the Prisons Bill and the Marriages Bill. The Coroner’s Office Bill, which will pave way for the setting up of the Coroner’s Office responsible for medico-legal investigations will also be tabled. The Small Claims Court, the Commercial Court and the High Court Bills are set to be merged into the Judicial Laws Amendment (Ease of Settling Commercial and other Disputes) Bill 2016.
The pack includes the Insolvency Bill and amendments to the Insurance Act, the Pensions and Provident Funds Act, and the Insurance and Pensions Commission Act and the Micro-finance Act. Also pertinent is the progressive fine-tuning of the indigenisation regulations.
Said President Mugabe: “It will be recalled that I issued a statement to clarify Government’s position regarding the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Policy on 11th April, 2016. The relevant Act will thus be amended to bring it into consonance with the enunciated policy position.” Other Bills to be tabled are the Computer Crime and Cyber Security Bill, the Electronic Transactions and Electronic Commerce Bill and the Data Protection Bill.
Given the packed agenda set by the President, we urge parliamentarians to work hard and speed up the set legislative reform processes covering all the 35 pieces of legislation. Some of the Bills are completely new, while others are Acts that will be amended such as the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act that will be aligned with President Mugabe’s clarification of the law in April this year.
President Mugabe admitted the economy was facing a number of challenges, which include the subdued aggregate demand, liquidity constraints, high interest rates, subdued foreign direct investment and limited fiscal space. We, however, commend the Government for its pro-activeness in implementing initiatives meant to improve the country’s economic fortunes.
To that end we feel the on-going ease of doing business reforms spearheaded by the Office of the President and Cabinet dovetails with the ideals of the country’s economic blueprint, Zim-Asset. The reforms are expected to boost output in key sectors of the economy such as mining, manufacturing, tourism and energy sectors.
Already the Government has enacted the Joint Ventures Act, which promotes public-private partnerships and is implementing pro-domestic production policies such as Statutory Instrument 64/2016, which puts controls on the importation of cheap products.
The pieces of legislation are already bearing fruits. Similar quick winning programmes such as the proposed Command Agriculture Scheme and the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Policy Strategy meant to support the country’s quest for industrialisation and modernisation, are being implemented.