Rope in lo­cals to re­vive Zisco, Mu­denda urges

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle - Bianca Mlilo

Zones leg­is­la­tion was also ex­pected to have a huge bear­ing in en­hanc­ing the in­vest­ment cli­mate in the coun­try go­ing for­ward.

“The Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zones Bill has been signed into law by His Ex­cel­lency, the Pres­i­dent. As part of the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zones con­cept, Trea­sury will be out­lin­ing a pack­age of tax in­cen­tives through the 2017 na­tional bud­get meant to stim­u­late the econ­omy,” said Chi­na­masa.

Guided by the above high­lighted as­sump­tions, the min­is­ter hoped for an im­proved 2017 macro-eco­nomic frame­work, which is en­vis­aged to yield a bet­ter econ­omy.

In his pro­jec­tions, the econ­omy would grow by 4.8 per­cent in 2017 from the sub­dued 2.7 per­cent growth pro­jec­tion for this year. The min­is­ter said rev­enues of about $4 bil­lion, which rep­re­sent 26 per­cent of GDP, are to be gen­er­ated.

This year’s bud­get has not per­formed well so far largely due to re­duced agri­cul­ture pro­duc­tion in the last sea­son as a re­sult of El-Nino in­duced drought, fall­ing com­mod­ity prices and firm­ing of the green­back against re­gional cur­ren­cies.

Min­is­ter Chi­na­masa, how­ever, ex­pressed con­cern over the con­tin­ued nega­tive trade. He re­ported that ex­ports for the pe­riod Jan­uary to Septem­ber stood at $1.766 bil­lion against im­ports of $3.778 bil­lion, giv­ing a trade deficit of $2.013 bil­lion.

“To re­duce this trade deficit, the Gov­ern­ment will con­tinue to im­ple­ment im­port sub­sti­tu­tion and re­stric­tions on the im­por­ta­tion of non-es­sen­tials so as to pre­serve the stock of our for­eign cur­rency in the coun­try. Such mea­sures in­clude the Statu­tory In­stru­ment 64 of 2016,” he said.

As such, the min­is­ter said, the 2017 bud­get will be geared to ad­dress the cur­rent eco­nomic chal­lenges the econ­omy is fac­ing with fo­cus on stim­u­lat­ing trans­for­ma­tive eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment by en­hanc­ing the sup­ply side in the pro­duc­tive sec­tors.

“Ac­cord­ingly, a num­ber of tax and other in­cen­tives will be part of the pack­age in the 2017 bud­get to achieve this ob­jec­tive. The 2017 na­tional bud­get will con­tinue to be guided by Zim-As­set, the 10-Point Plan, the In­terim Poverty Re­duc­tion Strat­egy Pa­per launched on 26 Septem­ber 2016 and other rel­e­vant sec­toral poli­cies,” he added. SPEAKER of Par­lia­ment Ad­vo­cate Ja­cob Mu­denda says Zim­babwe is able to raise the $50 mil­lion in­ter­nally for the re­sus­ci­ta­tion of the coun­try’s gi­ant steel maker, Zis­cos­teel.

The Red­cliff firm ceased op­er­a­tions at the height of in­fla­tion in 2008 when it faced acute fi­nan­cial con­straints. Its re-open­ing has in re­cent years had many false starts, leav­ing about 3,500 work­ers stranded.

De­liv­er­ing a key­note ad­dress at the 2017 pre­bud­get sem­i­nar in Bu­l­awayo yes­ter­day, Adv Mu­denda con­demned the re­liance on for­eign in­vestors and said the coun­try should in­stead look from within it­self for in­vestors.

“We should work on the re­sus­ci­ta­tion of Zis­cos­teel and it is pos­si­ble if we stop this dilly-dal­ly­ing now and stop look­ing for ex­ter­nal in­vestors,” he said.

“$50mil­lion can put the com­pany back on its feet again, and it has the po­ten­tial to gen­er­ate a monthly gross profit of $10 mil­lion and above.

“Un­doubt­edly, there­fore, do­mes­tic re­source mo­bil­i­sa­tion is the only sus­tain­able op­tion to­wards to­tal so­cio-eco­nomic free­dom. This en­sures that we, as lead­ers, be ac­count­able to our own cit­i­zens and tax­pay­ers rather than to donors as is the case in most fi­nan­cially and ex­ter­nally de­pen­dent coun­tries.”

The sem­i­nar is be­ing held at the Zim­babwe In­ter­na­tional Trade Fair Grounds un­der the theme, “En­hanc­ing trans­for­ma­tive eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment through do­mes­tic re­source mo­bil­i­sa­tion and util­i­sa­tion.”

More than 200 peo­ple who in­clude leg­is­la­tors, min­is­ters and in­ter­ested stake­hold­ers are at­tend­ing the three-day sem­i­nar.

Adv Mu­denda said the key to ro­bust eco­nomic growth lies in do­mes­tic re­source mo­bil­i­sa­tion where the money to fi­nance lo­cal projects is gen­er­ated by the coun­try’s cit­i­zenry, part of which could boost the coun­try’s fis­cus.

He said de­spite spir­ited ef­forts by Fi­nance and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Pa­trick Chi­na­masa to re-en­gage multi-lat­eral fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions with a view to clear­ing Zim­babwe’s ar­rears, it was in­creas­ingly un­likely that Zim­babwe would re­ceive any mean­ing­ful ex­ter­nal bud­getary sup­port.

Min­is­ter Chi­na­masa, who was also in at­ten­dance con­curred, say­ing all Zim­bab­weans should join their hands to raise re­sources for such en­deav­ours.

The min­is­ter said while es­ti­mates in­di­cate that Zis­cos­teel needs about $300mil­lion, ex­perts in­sist that with about $50 mil­lion, it is pos­si­ble to re­vive the firm.

Ef­forts to re­vi­talise the gi­ant paras­tatal col­lapsed last year after the In­dian-owned Es­sar Hold­ings de­vel­oped cold feet in its pro­posed $750 mil­lion in­vest­ment deal it signed with the Gov­ern­ment in 2011.

Zis­cos­teel used to be one of the ma­jor con­trib­u­tors to the coun­try’s GDP with a high em­ploy­ment ca­pac­ity and down­stream ef­fect on the econ­omy.—@ Bian­caMlilo

Leg­is­la­tors fol­low pro­ceed­ings at the 2017 pre-bud­get sem­i­nar in Bu­l­awayo yes­ter­day

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