In­dus­try cap­tains ad­vo­cate spe­cial fund for Bu­l­awayo re­vival

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Pros­per Ndlovu/Pamela Shumba

GOV­ERN­MENT should avail a spe­cial fund­ing pack­age for in­dus­tries from the fis­cus to re­vive ail­ing com­pa­nies in Bu­l­awayo and catal­yse eco­nomic growth along value chains across the coun­try.

In­dus­try and com­merce ex­ec­u­tives said this in Bu­l­awayo yes­ter­day dur­ing a pre-bud­get di­a­logue sym­po­sium hosted by The Chron­i­cle. While some firms in the city have sur­vived de-in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion in the wake of eco­nomic chal­lenges in re­cent years, par­tic­i­pants said a de­lib­er­ate and ur­gent fis­cal pol­icy ini­tia­tive was re­quired to res­cue ail­ing com­pa­nies and re­store Bu­l­awayo as an in­dus­trial hub.

Con­fed­er­a­tion of Zim­babwe In­dus­tries (CZI) Mata­bele­land pres­i­dent, Mr Joseph Gunda, said the city’s in­dus­try has the ca­pac­ity to bol­ster pro­duc­tion and cre­ate more job op­por­tu­ni­ties if given ad­e­quate sup­port.

“Com­pa­nies in Bu­l­awayo are show­ing pos­i­tive signs of turn­around with some ex­pand­ing and dou­bling their ca­pac­ity. The CZI man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor sur­vey has showed us that ca­pac­ity util­i­sa­tion rose from 34, 3 per­cent in 2015 to 47, 4 per­cent in 2016,” he said.

“Ex­pec­ta­tions are high that an im­prove­ment will be regis­tered this year up from the 47, 4 per­cent given the pos­i­tive growth regis­tered in the var­i­ous sec­tors of our in­dus­tries.”

Among the com­pa­nies that have shown signs of re­cov­ery are Tregers Group, that has in­creased its ex­port volumes by 167 per­cent since last year, Blue Rib­bon Foods, Dat­labs, Arenel Bis­cuits and Bak­ers Inn.

In the en­gi­neer­ing sec­tor, Mr Gunda cited com­pa­nies such as General Belt­ings, Bot­tom Ar­ma­ture Wind­ing, and Shepco Group, which has taken over BMA Fas­ten­ers as be­ing on the mend.

Busi­ness­man Mr Delma Lu­pepe said the prob­lems fac­ing in­dus­try in Bu­l­awayo could be ad­dressed quickly if Gov­ern­ment pours ad­e­quate fund­ing for com­pa­nies.

“We need to zero down and fo­cus on get­ting Gov­ern­ment to set up a fund to re-equip in­dus­tries and re­vive firms. That fund should be able to bail out com­pa­nies so that they pro­duce and ex­port more,” he said.

Given af­ford­able loans, Mr Lu­pepe said Bu­l­awayo in­dus­tries would be able to pro­cure mod­ern ma­chin­ery that would cut pro­duc­tion costs and en­hance com­pet­i­tive­ness that would ul­ti­mately weed out im­ports.

Some par­tic­i­pants sug­gested that fund­ing should be chan­nelled to key in­dus­tries that have a down­stream ef­fect on the econ­omy such as the Cold Stor­age Com­pany, the Na­tional Rail­ways of Zim­babwe among oth­ers.

“We want the Gov­ern­ment to pri­ori­tise the re­sus­ci­ta­tion of in­dus­tries in Bu­l­awayo to re­vive our econ­omy. We also want to see the sus­pen­sion of duty on raw ma­te­ri­als,” said an­other par­tic­i­pant.

Oth­ers con­curred adding that the 2018 na­tional bud­get should ad­dress the cost driv­ers and liq­uid­ity chal­lenges that con­tinue to con­strain in­dus­try op­er­a­tions. Ma­jor cost driv­ers in­clude high taxes, labour, elec­tric­ity, wa­ter and trans­port costs as well as a mul­ti­plic­ity of statu­tory levies.

“There are a lot of chal­lenges that in­dus­tries are fac­ing as they try to re­vive their busi­nesses. One of the key chal­lenges we have is the short­age of for­eign cur­rency to im­port key raw ma­te­ri­als and ma­chin­ery spares.

“This is the big­gest threat in the re­vival of busi­nesses in Bu­l­awayo and the coun­try at large. We’re ac­tu­ally the high­est in the re­gion in terms of elec­tric­ity charges. Labour and trans­port are also on the high side,” said Mr Gunda.

Some sug­gested that the forth­com­ing fis­cal pol­icy state­ment should ad­dress the is­sue of legacy debts for com­pa­nies as these pose a threat to op­er­a­tions even when guar­an­teed of fund­ing.

They also sug­gested that the bud­get should help build trust among stake­hold­ers in the econ­omy not­ing that neg­a­tive per­cep­tions were af­fect­ing sta­bil­ity and growth. Oth­ers sug­gested that Gov­ern­ment iden­ti­fies a cock­tail of in­cen­tives for com­pa­nies within a stip­u­lated pe­riod so as to pro­mote growth.

There was also em­pha­sis on fi­nanc­ing re­search in­sti­tu­tions and ca­pac­i­tat­ing them to work closely with in­dus­try for knowl­edge trans­fer and rec­om­men­da­tions based on con­crete field find­ings.

Bu­l­awayo used to be the jewel of the econ­omy but over the years it has suf­fered dein­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion and loss of jobs.

Mr Morris Mpala, who was the moder­a­tor, stresses a point dur­ing the Pre-Bud­get di­a­logue in Bu­l­awayo yes­ter­day. Among the guests are the Zimpapers Dig­i­tal and Pub­lish­ing general man­ager, Mr Marks Shaya­mano and Zimpapers board chair­man Mr Delma Lu­pepe (right)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.