Op­er­a­tionalise Na­tional Com­pet­i­tive­ness Com­mis­sion

There are ap­prox­i­mately 40 Na­tional Com­pet­i­tive­ness Coun­cils or Com­mis­sions world­wide, in­clud­ing in the United States of Amer­ica, Egypt, Croa­tia, Saudi Ara­bia, Ire­land, United Arab Emi­rates, Brazil and South Korea.

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - ADVERTORIAL - Dr Gift Mugano

IN THESE coun­tries, some were led by the pri­vate sec­tor (USA, Egypt and Croa­tia) while oth­ers by the gov­ern­ment (Ire­land, United Arab Emi­rates, Saudi Ara­bia and Viet­nam).

Re­gard­less of who leads, suc­cess­ful coun­cils usu­ally in­volve stake­hold­ers from gov­ern­ment, the pri­vate sec­tor, academia and in many cases, trade unions.

Re­cently, the Gov­ern­ment of Zim­babwe gazetted the Na­tional Com­pet­i­tive­ness Com­mis­sion Act, which paved way for the es­tab­lish­ment of the Na­tional Com­pet­i­tive­ness Com­mis­sion (NCC) and the NCC board.

The NCC should con­trib­ute di­rectly to­wards the “Zim­babwe is open for busi­ness” mantra.

It should iden­tify con­straints to pro­duc­tiv­ity and eco­nomic growth, rec­om­mend prac­ti­cal so­lu­tions for these and en­sure that these have been de­vel­oped with in­clu­sive pub­lic-pri­vate di­a­logue. This will lead to broad sup­port for the Gov­ern­ment’s com­pet­i­tive­ness agenda.

At the mo­ment, Zim­babwe ranks lowly across all global rank­ing agen­cies such as World Bank do­ing busi­ness re­port, World Eco­nomic Fo­rum Global Com­pet­i­tive­ness In­dex and Trans­parency In­ter­na­tional, etc.

With respect to the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum Global Com­pet­i­tive­ness In­dex, Zim­babwe was ranked 124 out 137 coun­tries in 2017. In­vestors look at these re­ports be­fore even lis­ten­ing to what we have to say. These global rat­ing agen­cies show­case to in­vestors which coun­tries are open for busi­ness. We need to look at our sys­tems and reg­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ment. Is the en­vi­ron­ment con­ducive for good busi­ness?

Gov­ern­ment is aware of this and hence the fast tracked es­tab­lish­ment of the NCC, which is sup­posed to be a ve­hi­cle for re­mov­ing the ob­sta­cles to busi­ness.

In our in­ter­ac­tion with Gov­ern­ment on what could be key ob­jec­tives of the NCC, we agreed on the fol­low­ing: ◆ To con­trib­ute to­wards in­creas­ing Zim­babwe’s pro­duc­tiv­ity; ◆ To re­move con­straints to growth in spe­cific Zim­bab­wean in­dus­tries; ◆ To iden­tify cross-cut­ting con­straints to growth and pro­duc­tiv­ity and pro­vide so­lu­tions; ◆ To in­form pol­icy-mak­ing with fact-driven anal­y­sis; and ◆ To en­able Zim­babwe to ar­tic­u­late its com­pet­i­tive­ness strat­egy glob­ally. As we work on op­er­a­tional­is­ing the NCC, it is im­por­tant to bear in mind the un­der­ly­ing val­ues and as­sump­tions of suc­cess­ful com­mis­sions. These are: ◆ The ul­ti­mate goal for the coun­tries who es­tab­lished Com­pet­i­tive­ness Com­mis­sions were to es­tab­lish sus­tain­able pros­per­ity for their re­spec­tive peo­ple. ◆ Sus­tain­able in­creases in pros­per­ity are based on in­creases in pro­duc­tiv­ity. How­ever, one has to bear in mind that pro­duc­tiv­ity growth is not only do­ing things bet­ter but do­ing bet­ter things. ◆ Achiev­ing com­pet­i­tive­ness is partly a mat­ter of iden­ti­fy­ing cost driv­ers of pro­duc­tion and see­ing where these can be re­duced. This is called “do­ing things bet­ter”. Rather, com­pet­i­tive­ness means us­ing Zim­babwe’s ta­lents and as­sets for higher value ac­tiv­i­ties or “do­ing bet­ter things.” ◆ What it means is that the NCC should em­brace lead­ers. Par­tic­i­pants in spe­cific in­dus­tries are in the best po­si­tion to iden­tify the op­por­tu­ni­ties for com­pet­i­tive­ness as well as the con­straints. In­volv­ing the pri­vate sec­tor (in­clud­ing en­ter­prises, trade unions and ex­perts) in iden­ti­fy­ing con­straints and op­por­tu­ni­ties is the best way to get the an­a­lyt­ics right and to for­mu­late and im­ple­ment last­ing so­lu­tions. In most cases, based on best prac­tices, in­ter-min­is­te­rial co­op­er­a­tion and co­or­di­na­tion is vi­tal to achiev­ing am­bi­tious eco­nomic goals. Be­yond just es­tab­lish­ing re­search on cost driv­ers, iden­ti­fy­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and con­strains and ad­dress­ing them, Zim­babwe, at the right time, need to ar­tic­u­late its com­pet­i­tive­ness agenda to the global com­mu­nity through eco­nomic dash­boards, web­sites, in­vest­ment pro­mo­tion agen­cies and other ve­hi­cles. This will help in ad­dress­ing nega­tive in­ter­na­tional per­cep­tion, which is one of the ma­jor causes of un­com­pet­i­tive­ness. Oth­er­wise we will stand to suf­fer the same fate of a beau­ti­ful lady who dresses up in ex­pen­sive clothes and make-up. She then ad­mires her own re­flec­tion in the mir­ror but stays in­doors for­ever. As a re­sult, she never meets po­ten­tial suit­ors and stays sin­gle till death!

Dr Mugano is an Au­thor and Ex­pert in Trade and In­ter­na­tional Fi­nance. He has suc­cess­fully su­per­vised four Doc­tor­ate can­di­dates in the field of Trade and In­ter­na­tional fi­nance, pub­lished over twenty — five ar­ti­cles and book chap­ters in peer re­viewed jour­nals. He is a Re­search As­so­ci­ate at Nel­son Man­dela Univer­sity, Regis­trar at Zim­babwe Ezekiel Guti Univer­sity and Di­rec­tor at Africa Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Strate­gies. Feed­back: Cell: +263 772 541 209. Email: gmugano@ gmail.com.

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