No holds-barred as ED meets busi­ness

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Africa Moyo

PRES­I­DENT Mnan­gagwa yes­ter­day held can­did dis­cus­sions with cap­tains of in­dus­tries, re­tail­ers, bankers and con­sumers with a view to lo­cate chal­lenges and pos­si­ble so­lu­tions to prob­lems faced in pro­duc­tion of goods and ser­vices re­sult­ing in short­ages and sky-high prices.

The no holds-barred dis­cus­sions were held from 0830hrs to about 1230hrs at State House in Harare.

Jour­nal­ists only cov­ered Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa’s key­note ad­dress, be­fore be­ing asked to leave the in­ter­ac­tive ses­sion be­tween Govern­ment and busi­ness.

The me­dia were then in­vited for the clos­ing re­marks done by the Pres­i­dent.

“We had a very frank ex­change of views which in the end sep­a­rated boys from men and girls from ladies,” said Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa.

“The views that have been put for­ward, were all im­por­tant, some were ex­cel­lent, some were very good, some were good and oth­ers were fair and few were bad.

“But all those cat­e­gories of views are use­ful. We can only move when we in­ter­ro­gate ex­cel­lent views as against the bad views, the fair views as against the very good ones; all ought to be in­ter­ro­gated to find a com­mon path.”

Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa said some of the cap­tains of in­dus­try called for the cre­ation of an ad­vi­sory coun­cil to as­sist him with cer­tain de­ci­sions. He said the pro­posal was “work in progress”. Said Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa: “I see that the struc­ture of busi­ness (rep­re­sented) here is well struc­tured. We have the min­ing sec­tor, CZI, ZNCC, bankers, re­tail­ers and con­sumers.

“I would wish that all these sub-sec­tors, each pro­duce the best brain to my coun­cil. Not that I will ac­cept the many views that you give me, but I will look at it.

“Let me as­sure you that we noted all the views that you have ex­pressed here and I have no doubt that all views have been ex­pressed with hon­esty and sin­cer­ity with the de­sire for us to move for­ward to­gether. Let that be the spirit.”

Although Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa was a bit guarded on some of the is­sues in­ter­ro­gated dur­ing the meeting, a source that at­tended told Our Harare Bureau yes­ter­day that Govern­ment raised con­cern on the ex­tor­tion­ate prices be­ing charged by re­tail­ers.

Man­u­fac­tur­ers, some of whom are ac­cused of de­lib­er­ately with­hold­ing prod­ucts in the last few weeks hop­ing to re­sell in the near fu­ture, are un­der­stood to have com­plained about the in­def­i­nite sus­pen­sion of Statu­tory In­stru­ment 122 of 2017 to al­low those with free funds to im­port ba­sic goods and fill up su­per­mar­ket shelves.

SI 122, for­merly SI 64 of 2016, re­stricts the im­por­ta­tion of goods that can or­di­nar­ily be pro­duced in Zim­babwe such as cook­ing oil, dairy prod­ucts, and con­struc­tion prod­ucts, among oth­ers.

In­dus­tri­al­ists in­sisted they have ca­pac­ity to pro­duce the prod­ucts that are in short sup­ply but Govern­ment is un­der­stood to have dug in and said the sus­pen­sion will stay for some time.

Sources said the in­dus­tri­al­ists then tried to lobby Govern­ment to is­sue per­mits to those will­ing to im­port the ba­sic goods to avoid a sit­u­a­tion of over-sup­ply, but again, Govern­ment is said to have poured cold wa­ter on the pro­pos­als.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from ZNCC and the Con­fed­er­a­tion of Zim­babwe Re­tail­ers (CZR) are said to have sup­ported the sus­pen­sion of SI 122.

Other is­sues said to have been raised by in­dus­try per­tain to pol­icy con­sis­tency and re­duc­ing Govern­ment ex­pen­di­ture.

Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa said Govern­ment is keen to cut down on costs.

“We must all be hum­ble and Govern­ment must lead in that ex­am­ple. We shall con­tinue to make big cuts to perks and un­nec­es­sary ex­pen­di­ture so that Govern­ment lives within its means,” said the Pres­i­dent.

He promised to have more in­ter­ac­tive ses­sions with busi­ness­peo­ple to en­sure the econ­omy moves for­ward.

“You have re­quested that we meet, some said twice a year; I need more than twice a year. We, as the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion, know that your input is cru­cial in mov­ing for­ward.

“The days when Govern­ment made de­ci­sions with­out con­sult­ing the pri­vate sec­tor are now be­hind us. In the new dis­pen­sa­tion, di­a­logue is a two-way street (and) the pri­vate sec­tor and the pub­lic sec­tor must tra­verse this new path handin-hand to build the Zim­babwe we want.”

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