Felex Share Senior Reporter
Cabinet has endorsed key economic reforms spelt out in the 100-day Action Plan to improve the ease of doing business and Government yesterday launched the second phase as it redoubles efforts to attract foreign direct investment and stimulate economic growth.
The first 100 days ended on December 31 and yielded various milestones including recommendations to reduce the number of days it takes to register a property from 36 days to 14 days and reducing time taken to pay taxes from 242 hours to 160 hours.
Other reforms include reducing the time for obtaining construction permits from 448 days to 120, reducing the cost to import and export by 30 percent, reducing the days it takes to register a business from 30 to 15 while strides have been made to amend several prices of legislation such as the Companies Act, Shop Licensing Act and the Procurement Act.
The next cycle of the 100 days, which ends on May 31, saw representatives from Government, parastatals, the private sector, local authorities, academics and the civil society convening in the past two days to formulate work plans that will guide the phase.
Launching the second phase in Harare yesterday, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda said there was need for stakeholders to amplify their efforts on the ease of doing business to catch up with other nations or risk being condemned to the “backwaters of economic development.”
“During the first phase, tangible milestones were attained, highlights of which include the review of several pieces of legislation, regulation, licensing requirements and the removal of administrative barriers that were a huge hindrance to both local and foreign investment,” he said.
“A report on the progress attained was subsequently tabled in Cabinet by the Minister of Industry and Commerce within the context of the boarder programme to enhance national economic competitiveness. Cabinet fully endorsed the work by the technical working groups, and in actual fact, is looking forward to the speedy conclusion and implementation of the reforms.”
Dr Sibanda added: “This huge weight of expectations by our Principals in Government and indeed the generality of our people bid us to redouble our efforts as we embark on the implementation of this second tranche of the reforms. Retrogressive tendencies, such as the ‘silo’ mentality and ‘turfism’ should never be entertained in the execution of this important task.”
The reforms are envisaged to accelerate the implementation of Zim-Asset and the 10-Point Plan enunciated by President Mugabe last year.
Dr Sibanda said by raising its ranking on the global competitiveness index, Zimbabwe would enhance its attractiveness as an investment destination.
“In the current global economic matrix, investors are increasingly risk averse and nimble-footed,” he said.
“They will promptly move their investments from less efficient destinations that are characterised by bureaucratic lethargy and red tape, to more efficient and responsive markets. As such, each delay in raising our standing on the global competitiveness index implies a missed opportunity to improve the lot of our citizens.”
He said the second phase would be all about clearing the impediments that hinder economic growth and as such focus would not only be on business climate reforms but other pillars of the economy.
Infrastructure development, Dr Sibanda said, was a key determinant of national economic competitiveness and Government was speeding the implementation of projects concluded with various progressive countries.
“Government is in the process of modernising and rationalising processes at the country’s ports of entry,” he said.
“In the export sector, it will be necessary to streamline the regulatory requirements and the related levies, which currently constitute a disincentive to our exporters. On infrastructure, the main objective is to improve the country’s connectivity and access to regional and global markets.”
He said the reforms for the next 100 days would be underpinned by a “board communication and publicity strategy” to keep the nation abreast of progress being made.