Up your game, re­duce prices, says Bimha

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle - Pros­per Ndlovu

IN­DUS­TRY and Com­merce Min­is­ter Dr Mike Bimha says the pri­vate sec­tor should take ad­van­tage of Statu­tory In­stru­ment 64 of 2016 to im­prove pro­duc­tion ef­fi­ciency and re­duce prices of their prod­ucts to achieve com­pet­i­tive­ness.

Cheap im­ports con­tinue to be a ma­jor threat to do­mes­tic in­dus­try vi­a­bil­ity and con­trib­ute to the widen­ing trade deficit es­ti­mated at $3 bil­lion an­nu­ally, ac­cord­ing to Zim­stat.

Some un­scrupu­lous busi­nesses have started in­creas­ing prices of goods and ser­vices de­spite the strength­en­ing of the United States dol­lar thereby giv­ing room for more im­ports and smug­gling.

Min­is­ter Bimha told a busi­ness gath­er­ing dur­ing the com­mis­sion­ing of Tur­nall Hold­ing’s new Eco-sheet prod­uct in Bu­l­awayo last Thurs­day that pro­tec­tion­ist mea­sures such as Statu­tory In­stru­ment (SI) 64 were not sus­tain­able in the long term.

The Gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced SI 64 in June this year to curb the in­flux of a range of prod­ucts that are man­u­fac­tured lo­cally as part of mea­sures to boost do­mes­tic pro­duc­tion and save jobs.

“We are say­ing to you as man­u­fac­tur­ers, the Gov­ern­ment is sup­port­ing you but you also need to play your part, you need to up your game, you need to im­prove on qual­ity and dis­tri­bu­tion. You also have to bring your prices down by in­creas­ing your ef­fi­ciency,” said Dr Bimha.

“Those com­pa­nies that are ben­e­fit­ing from SI 64, we would want you dur­ing this tem­po­rary pe­riod to re-equip or re­tool, so that when com­pe­ti­tion comes, you will be pro­duc­ing enough of high qual­ity. But to do so a num­ber of com­pa­nies re­quire fund­ing and we are say­ing those firms that ben­e­fited but re­quire fund­ing to re-tool please come to us. There is fund­ing for those com­pa­nies that ben­e­fited from SI 64. So, it’s en­tirely up to you to take up this of­fer.”

The min­is­ter said feed­back from the pri­vate sec­tor was al­ready in­di­cat­ing that the in­ter­ven­tion by the Gov­ern­ment was im­pact­ing pos­i­tively on do­mes­tic pro­duc­tion.

“When we in­tro­duced the first SI in 2015, which was tar­geted at a few prod­ucts in­clud­ing cook­ing oil, we dis­cov­ered that in a very short space of time the pro­duc­tion had gone up, ca­pac­ity util­i­sa­tion had gone up.

“But more im­por­tantly some of those com­pa­nies which were ex­port­ing cook­ing oil to Zim­babwe came to Zim­babwe to set up new fac­to­ries to pro­duce the prod­uct that they were ex­port­ing, there­fore cre­at­ing em­ploy­ment in Zim­babwe,” said Dr Bimha.

He ex­plained that it was in this con­text that Gov­ern­ment brought SI 64 of 2016 to give broader sup­port to a num­ber of prod­ucts.

The pro­tec­tion­ist in­stru­ment has, how­ever, at­tracted wide­spread crit­i­cism from pes­simists who ac­cuse the Gov­ern­ment of be­ing in­sen­si­tive to those af­fected.

Cap­tains of in­dus­try have al­ready ap­plauded the le­gal in­stru­ment and the Con­fed­er­a­tion of Zim­babwe In­dus­tries (CZI) will this week present an out­come of its ca­pac­ity util­i­sa­tion sur­vey for the year, which will fac­tor the ef­fect of SI 64.

“But we now see the fruits of SI 64 as ev­i­denced by the feed­back we are get­ting from man­u­fac­tur­ers. SI 64 is not the end in it­self to us. It’s just the be­gin­ning of a road to res­cus­ci­tate our in­dus­try. We will con­tinue to bring other mea­sures that will sup­port lo­cal pro­duc­tion,” said Dr Bimha. lib­er­al­i­sa­tion of airspace. Zim­babwe is among the first 11 coun­tries that ex­pressed com­mit­ment to open skies and now they are 15 af­ter oth­ers joined re­cently, more still need to join,” he said.

Dr Chin­gosho said the 15 con­sti­tute 75 per­cent of air traf­fic in Africa, and hoped other states would fol­low the path to­wards lib­er­al­i­sa­tion of the airspace.

He said some of the chal­lenges faced by air­lines in­clude blocked funds, which air­lines are fail­ing to repa­tri­ate from their coun­tries of op­er­a­tions and safety.

Dr Chin­gosho said: “Be­cause of lack of funds air­lines are strug­gling. They should be al­lowed to get their

He said the Gov­ern­ment was also work­ing closely with CZI, Buy Zim­babwe, ZNCC and other busi­ness or­gan­i­sa­tions to look at the pos­si­bil­ity of a ro­bust pol­icy on lo­cal pro­cure­ment.

The min­is­ter said if all Zim­bab­weans were com­mit­ted to buy­ing lo­cal and buy­ing prod­ucts that are made in this coun­try, there would be no need for SI 64 or any pro­tec­tion­ist mea­sure.

He em­pha­sised that the SI 64 alone would not yield pos­i­tive re­sults with­out in­put from com­pa­nies. In­stead, he chal­lenged firms to be pro-ac­tive by com­ing up with so­lu­tions and only seek’s Gov­ern­ment hand in cre­at­ing an en­abling en­vi­ron­ment.

“So it’s not just some­thing you get for noth­ing. We also de­mand you to play your part. But more im­por­tantly it’s not Gov­ern­ment that comes up with so­lu­tions. It is up to you who are the peo­ple on the ground to come to Gov­ern­ment and say here are the so­lu­tions,” said Dr Bimha.

“I don’t want com­pa­nies that come to us and say we have this problem can you as Gov­ern­ment help us, I want you to come and say we have these prob­lems but we suggest these so­lu­tions, then it’s eas­ier for me to take these so­lu­tions to Cabi­net to say let’s re­solve this. You are the peo­ple on the ground who know bet­ter than the Gov­ern­ment, so bring the so­lu­tions.” money so they can op­er­ate and fa­cil­i­tate trade”.

Or­gan­is­ers said the 4th ses­sion of AFRAA sum­mit was the biggest ever with about 557 del­e­gates from dif­fer­ent air­lines in Africa, their part­ners from the sup­pli­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor present.

The sum­mit runs un­der the theme: “Man­ag­ing sur­vival and mar­ket re­cov­ery of African air­lines.”

Air Zim­babwe is the host of the three-day event which ends to­day.

The event also of­fers an op­por­tu­nity for Zim­babwe to show­case its hospi­tal­ity and the unique tourist attractions. - @ncubeleon

Mrs Bona Chikore (cen­tre) and her hus­band Mr Simba Chikore (2nd from right) who is Air Zim­babwe chief op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer share a lighter mo­ment with Mr Shawn Pike (2nd from left), the com­mer­cial sales man­ager of Omni Air In­ter­na­tional, a com­pany that leases air­craft, and two other del­e­gates.— Pic­ture by Leonard Ncube

Dr Mike Bimha

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