Com­pa­nies cut work­ing hours

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Oliver Kazunga

COM­PA­NIES in Bu­l­awayo have re­sorted to re­duced work­ing hours due to a shortage of raw ma­te­ri­als as for­eign cur­rency short­ages con­tinue to take their toll, the Con­fed­er­a­tion of Zim­babwe In­dus­tries (CZI) has said.

In an in­ter­view, CZI Mata­bele­land Cham­ber pres­i­dent Mr Joseph Gunda said a num­ber of com­pa­nies such as Gen­eral Belt­ings, Shepco In­dus­tries and Zim­plow have started send­ing their work­ers home be­cause of de­pressed pro­duc­tiv­ity caused by for­eign cur­rency con­straints.

“We are in a tight spot as forex short­ages hit in­dus­tries harder. Gen­er­ally for most of us, it has been al­most three weeks with no al­lo­ca­tions and most of the in­dus­tries rely on the im­por­ta­tion of raw ma­te­ri­als and with­out al­lo­ca­tions the sit­u­a­tion is get­ting worse,” he said.

“We are ap­peal­ing to the Re­serve Bank of Zim­babwe to pri­ori­tise al­lo­cat­ing the min­ing equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers and sup­pli­ers.”

Mr Gunda said the min­ing in­dus­try was Zim­babwe’s key driver of the econ­omy and its sub­dued func­tional per­for­mance has a neg­a­tive rip­ple ef­fects to the over­all macro-eco­nomic sta­bil­ity. The min­ing sec­tor is this year ex­pected to con­trib­ute more than 70 per­cent of Zim­babwe’s for­eign cur­rency earn­ings from 2017’s con­tri­bu­tion of 70 per­cent. The sec­tor also con­trib­utes 13 per­cent to the Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct.

“For ex­am­ple, in our case as Gen­eral Belt­ings and com­pa­nies such as Shepco In­dus­tries, we are key sup­pli­ers to the min­ing sec­tor and if we don’t sup­ply con­veyor belts and other equip­ment to the min­ing sec­tor, we’re af­fect­ing the min­ing in­dus­try big time,” said Mr Gunda.

He noted that if min­ing com­pa­nies rely more on im­ported ac­ces­sories and equip­ment, that would in­crease Zim­babwe’s im­port bill and fur­ther ex­ac­er­bate eco­nomic chal­lenges.

Since 2009, the coun­try has been strug­gling to tame the neg­a­tive trade bal­ance as Zim­babwe’s en­tire man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor was op­er­at­ing at un­com­pet­i­tive lev­els driven by a host of oper­a­tional chal­lenges.

In 2017, Zim­babwe’s trade deficit tum­bled by 25 per­cent to $1,5 bil­lion and this year the Gov­ern­ment has set sights on trim­ming it fur­ther to less than $1 bil­lion. — @okazunga

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