Business wants faster progress on implementing Government reforms

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President Mugabe exchanges pleasantries with Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Sifelani Jabangwe while Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa looks on at the interface with industry and commerce. (Pic John Manzongo)

Conrad Mwanawashe
Captains of industry and commerce want to see urgency in the implementation of State enterprises reforms, improving the doing-business environment, labour laws, and action in dealing with corruption within the private and public sectors.

This came out at the interface between industry and commerce and President Robert Mugabe, Thursday, held exactly a decade after such an engagement between the two parties.

President Mugabe, while acknowledging enterprise effort, however challenged banks to lower interest rates to productive sectors, among other key issues.

Captains of industry from the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, and Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe, Chamber of Mines, Bankers Association of Zimbabwe, among others, requested the meeting to acknowledge to President Mugabe for the policies that have improved the doing business environment.

“The purpose for this request was to acknowledge policies initiatives that have taken place that are designed to lay the ground work for economic recovery as well as to highlight some areas that we believe need closer attention in order to sustain the recovery,” CZI former president Charles Msipa who spoke on behalf of the business leaders, said.

The captains of industry and commerce acknowledged the positive rebound of the economy to a projected 3,7 percent in 2017 from a low growth rate of about 0,6 percent in 2016 following a significant growth in the agriculture sector in the 2016/ 17 season.

The agriculture sector saw growth jumping to 12 percent from a decline of 3,7 percent in 2016.

Industry told President Mugabe that the agricultural sector recovery will have a positive spill-over effect on other sectors such as agro-processing, transport and manufacturing and in addition, significant output growth in gold projections, nickel sectors will underpin this year`s estimated overall mining sector projected growth of 6,9 percent.

Ministers and senior officials also attended the interface, which President Mugabe said constituted the shared commitment between the corporate sector and Government to the complete turnaround of the national economy through the implementation of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation and the Ten point Plan.

President Mugabe said such interfaces should be held often where business would be afforded a chance to go into plenary with Government leadership as opposed to “sermonising to each other”.

State enterprise reform has been on Government agenda for a long time. Last year, Government rolled out an ambitious turnaround programme of State-owned enterprises, starting with 11 key parastatals to reduce the fiscal burden and ensure they operate viably.

The programme involves the auditing of the institutions and formulation of turnaround strategies.

President Mugabe said Government was addressing the fundamental challenges besetting the economy namely the high fiscal deficit, low liquidity, market indiscipline and low productivity among others.

“By and large the aim is to reduce the wage bill to 65 percent of total revenue by 2019,” he said.

On State enterprises President Mugabe said some should go.

“I can reveal to you a Cabinet secret. We were discussing this subject on Tuesday. I was very negative about it and I could see the Minister of Finance (and Economic Development Patrick Chinamasa) getting more and more depressed by my speech which ended by these are none performers.

“What we must do is to find coffins for them and bury them with the words ‘Rest in Peace’,” said President Mugabe.

“I said we have had a history and I wanted to also, by way of analogy, refer to the country from which we had borrowed these awful money-spenders, awful burdens around our necks, Britain.

He said some in Cabinet said there were some State enterprises which Government should keep while for the others “we should get as many coffins as there are those which have caused us immense expenditure”.

“They should certainly go. I don’t know what you say in your own environment,” said President Mugabe.

The private sector should take the leading role in implementing the Ten Point Plan to ensure economic development.

On corruption, President Mugabe said conceited effort from both the private and public sectors could see the eradication of the scourge.

“We need a collective approach and very strong approach and that means of course discipline that cases must not be allowed to go unpunished. Let’s punish them.

“Anyway, on its part Government will soon introduce a code of conduct and ethics for senior officials in the public sector while the anti-corruption commission (Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission) is also spearheading the anti-corruption campaign the anti-corruption campaign as mandated under the relevant legislation,” said President Mugabe.

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