Govt invites SEZs applications
THE Government has invited applications from companies that are keen to operate under the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) concept as it moves to operationalise the crucial economic strategy.
SEZs provide incentives and a favourable environment investors would ordinarily not be able to get, giving them comfort and more reason to take the plunge.
Last week, President Mugabe signed the SEZs Bill into law after referring it back to Parliament in September upon expressing reservations on a clause that sought to suspend the Labour Act whose effect would have exposed the workers to “serious” abuse by employers.
With the SEZs law now in place, companies can start applying to the Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA), a senior Government official said.
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Dr Desire Sibanda told Business Chronicle on the sidelines of the just-ended 2017 Parliamentary pre-national budget seminar in Bulawayo, that the signing of the Bill by the President is a great step for the economy.
“What is outstanding, for example, is the appointment of a board for the SEZ but now if companies want to operate in a SEZ then they can start applying now because it is now law,” said Dr Sibanda.
It is hoped that through SEZ Act, Zimbabwe would improve industrial growth in designated areas such as Bulawayo that was once the country’s industrial hub.
“Bulawayo used to be the industrial hub in Zimbabwe but industry has gone down. This SEZ Act is meant to improve industrial growth in Bulawayo, the same thing with Harare.
“Victoria Falls was declared a SEZ for the simple reason that we need our tourism industry to grow. So these areas that have been selected including Sunway City are meant to fast track the implementation of the SEZs,” he added.
Dr Sibanda reiterated that the SEZs concept was not peculiar to Zimbabwe as a number of fast growing African countries have introduced the initiative.
He said such countries include Ghana and Zambia, adding that the other countries in Africa were inspired to establish SEZs by China.
China, the world’s second largest economy after the US, has successfully built a diversified industrial base and has pledged to help Zimbabwe in developing SEZs.
Experts say the signing of the SEZ Bill into law by President Mugabe lays a solid foundation for industrialisation, technology transfer and economic growth. Zimbabwe wields unlimited potential for economic growth and prosperity, but lacked the spark to ignite its potential while the decade of economic downturn pulled it down.
SEZs are being established to restore and drive the economy’s capacity to produce goods and services competitively and to create economies of scale good enough for the locator of the proposed SEZs to be internationally competitive.
Other objectives of the SEZ include ensuring inclusive growth emanating from the spread of growth nodes and diversified provincial offerings; to maximise the economic benefits of a given geographical location and its stakeholders and to attract more investment from the international world.