New busi­ness poli­cies on the cards: Min Ndlovu

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

IN­DUS­TRY and Com­merce Minister Man­gal­iso Ndlovu will early next year ta­ble the Lo­cal Con­tent Pol­icy and Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Bill be­fore Parliament in a bid to en­hance lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ers’ ca­pac­ity and to pro­mote con­sumer rights to ba­sic needs.

In an in­ter­view with Sun­day News Busi­ness re­cently, Minister Ndlovu said one of his pri­or­i­ties next year would be to ex­pe­dite the launch Lo­cal Con­tent Pol­icy as well as en­sur­ing the Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Bill is en­acted into a law as soon as pos­si­ble.

“We were sup­posed to have launched it be­fore year end but we ended up be­ing de­layed and ended up be­ing con­sumed be­cause of the Na­tional Bud­get prepa­ra­tions. So af­fir­ma­tively we are go­ing to launch it in the first quar­ter. I would have put an op­ti­mistic tar­get of Jan­uary but the Parliament opens late. So I can af­firm that by the end of the first quar­ter. It’s the Lo­cal Con­tent Pol­icy and Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Bill they will be out. The Bill is ready . . . ,” he said.

The lo­cal con­tent pol­icy is ex­pected to stim­u­late use of lo­cal fac­tors of pro­duc­tion, such as labour, cap­i­tal, sup­plies of goods and ser­vices, to cre­ate value in the do­mes­tic econ­omy and hence ex­pand the in­dus­trial sec­tor.

“The pol­icy seeks to en­cour­age in­ter­ac­tion be­tween lo­cal play­ers, man­u­fac­tur­ers and buy­ers of dif­fer­ent prod­ucts to say let’s pri­ori­tise our prod­ucts, let’s have a pol­icy of say­ing in our pro­cure­ment a par­tic­u­lar per­cent­age should be lo­cal con­tent and as well at con­sump­tion level, let’s en­cour­age con­sump­tion or con­sum­ing of lo­cal prod­ucts. That way we may not even need to pro­tect goods com­ing in be­cause we know we are con­sum­ing our prod­ucts, we are pri­ori­tis­ing our man­u­fac­tur­ers, we are help­ing cre­at­ing em­ploy­ment and we are also help­ing our man­u­fac­tur­ers im­prove ca­pac­ity util­i­sa­tion. So that’s ba­si­cally what the lo­cal pol­icy is about to get Zim­babwe to buy Zim­bab­wean prod­ucts,” said Minister Ndlovu.

Buy Zim­babwe chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Mr Mun­yaradzi Hweng­were said the Lo­cal Con­tent Pol­icy was of para­mount im­por­tance as it seeks to cre­ate rent-based in­vest­ment and import sub­sti­tu­tion in­cen­tives.

“With­out deal­ing with our pro­duc­tion and in­creas­ing lo­cal in­puts of the man­u­fac­tured prod­uct that we have or re­duc­ing the im­ports in the min­ing sec­tor, our trade deficit would re­main very high. Why busi­nesses end up pre­fer­ring trade mea­sures where you just con­trol bor­ders is be­cause it’s the sim­pler way but the harder and longer way is to deal with pro­duc­tion, pro­vid­ing in­cen­tives to com­pa­nies that re­duce im­ports be­cause they are sourc­ing their raw ma­te­ri­als lo­cally. So as a pol­icy mea­sure it is some­thing that this coun­try se­ri­ously and ur­gently re­quires to­day . . . ,” he said.

Mr Hweng­were said a meeting be­tween the minister and var­i­ous busi­ness as­so­ci­a­tions and in­dus­try would be held soon to de­lib­er­ate on the need of ac­cel­er­at­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Lo­cal Con­tent Pol­icy.

“While the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Lo­cal Con­tent Pol­icy is go­ing on as Buy Zim­babwe we are forg­ing ahead by putting in place mea­sures that will ensure that we be­gin to au­dit na­tion­ally lo­cal con­tent of all the sec­tors, par­tic­u­larly our man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor and our min­ing sec­tor . . . ,” he said.

He said the au­dit to be car­ried out, the com­pet­i­tive­ness driver comes in the wake of a min­ing sur­vey, which in­di­cated that no more than 20 per­cent of in­puts into the es­ti­mated $2 bil­lion min­ing in­dus­try are ob­tained lo­cally. Buy Zim­babwe serves as the Sec­re­tar­iat of the Lo­cal Con­tent Project chaired by the Con­fed­er­a­tion of Zim­babwe In­dus­tries and com­pris­ing key in­sti­tu­tions such as the Min­istry of In­dus­try, Com­merce and En­ter­prise Devel­op­ment, Zim­babwe Na­tional Cham­ber of Com­merce, Re­tail­ers As­so­ci­a­tions, Farm­ers As­so­ci­a­tions, Con­sumer Coun­cil of Zim­babwe, and the Min­istry of Fi­nance and Eco­nomic Plan­ning, among oth­ers.

Com­ment­ing on the Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Bill Minister Ndlovu said once it was en­acted into law it would en­able the Con­sumer Coun­cil of Zim­babwe (CCZ) to have le­git­i­mate pow­ers to pro­tect con­sumers against er­rant busi­nesses.

“I don’t want to com­ment on it (Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Bill) right now apart from say­ing we are try­ing to give ‘teeth’ to in­sti­tu­tions like CCZ and re­ally to pro­tect con­sumers from the abuse they are fac­ing from re­tail­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers, so that’s the whole aim to eman­ci­pate their rights as con­sumers,” he said.

CCZ ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Ms Rose­mary Siy­a­chithema re­it­er­ated Minister Ndlovu’s sen­ti­ments stat­ing that the purpose of the Bill was mainly aimed at pro­tect­ing con­sumers’ rights.

“We were look­ing for­ward to the Bill go­ing through to the Parliament. That’s what we were wait­ing for be­cause if you go through it you will see how it seeks to pro­tect con­sumers, it has many sec­tions in it that are aimed at pro­tect­ing the con­sumers. That’s the whole thing to pro­tect the con­sumers and it’s about time,” she said.

Ms Siy­a­chitema said en­act­ment of the Bill into law has been pro­longed, leav­ing con­sumers at the mercy of un­scrupu­lous re­tail­ers.

“Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Act is not only go­ing to look at price, it has a much wider scope on things that it looks at in re­la­tion to con­sumer rights . . . what we are ad­vo­cat­ing for is that it should be put in place be­cause we have seen in the past some of the Bills be­ing fast tracked and yet here we are, we have been work­ing on this Bill for years . . .

“We now need a le­gal statute, which has “teeth” to en­able us to warn re­tail­ers, giv­ing them stip­u­lated time to abide and fail­ure to do so they face the con­se­quences. At the mo­ment most busi­nesses need to be “whipped” to toe the line so as to oust them from the bad be­hav­iour, which is presently pre­vail­ing on the mar­ket. So the Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Act is re­ally go­ing to counter a lot of the ques­tions in­clud­ing some in­sti­tu­tion cre­ated within it . . . ,” she said.

The Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Act would re­sult in the es­tab­lish­ment of a Con­sumer Court and a Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Com­mis­sion.

The Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Com­mis­sion to be cre­ated once the Bill has been passed will co-or­di­nate and net­work con­sumer ac­tiv­i­ties; pro­mote fair busi­ness prac­tices and pro­tect con­sumers from un­rea­son­able, un­just oth­er­wise im­proper trade prac­tices, de­cep­tive, mis­lead­ing, un­fair and fraud­u­lent con­duct.

@DNsingo

Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Ru­ral As­so­ci­a­tions for Progress

Minister Man­gal­iso Ndlovu

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