Conrad Mwanawashe Business Reporter—
GOVERNMENT has directed the Competition and Tariffs Commission to investigate mobile cash transfer costs and called on mobile network operators to reduce broadband charges. “In response to outcry on the cost of transferring money, Cabinet decided that mobile cash transfer costs should be investigated by the appropriate authority. “On this matter, I am pleased to inform you that I have already instructed the Competition and Tariff Commission to undertake the assignment,” said Minister of Industry and Commerce Mike Bimha.
He was addressing the media on Cabinet’s decision on the measures to enhance competitiveness.
Government also wants mobile services operators to reduce broadband service charges.
“With regard to broadband services, network providers were called upon to reduce their charges to affordable levels,” said Minister Bimha.
Econet and Telecel could not be reached for comment on the matter.
The Cost Drivers Analysis showed that the nation’s international trade flow and its composition point towards a sustained loss of competitiveness.
Government has identified labour, power, water, finance, transport and trade logistics, tariffs as well as information technology as key cost drivers in its Cost Driver Analysis of the economy.
In May, Government set up two advisory committees to investigate and proffer advice on imports and the cost of doing business.
The measures adopted by the Government are set to improve Zimbabwe’s global ranking on the World Bank’s Doing Business 2013 report which showed that the country’s global ranking dropped to 170 out of 185 countries in 2013.
Some of the measures which Government introduced include engaging fertiliser companies to determine fertiliser requirements for any season so that appropriate support measures can be given in time.
“Further, Cabinet agreed that a special time framed electricity tariff for the production of Ammonia be introduced while pursuing in the long term migration to technologies that do not consume as much power such as coal-bed methane or coal gasification,” he said.
“Cabinet also agreed on promoting the production of higher analysis compounds as this will reduce the cost of the fertiliser in the form of its transportation, application costs and its cost among other benefits,” said the Minister.
Minister Bimha said Cabinet also approved key cross cutting recommendations which called for decisive action on corruption which is contributing to the cost of doing business in the country; e-governance, decentralisation of Government services, the open tender system and that steps be taken to ensure that the One-Stop-Shop at the Zimbabwe Investment Authority is functional.
Government’s decision follows findings of an Inter-Ministerial Committee set up to critically examine the main cost drivers that have a bearing on the country’s pricing structure.
The committee was also set up to assess the cost levels in so far as they relate to the cost of agricultural inputs, repair and maintenance of agricultural equipment and the general debt burden on farmers.
It carried out a comprehensive analysis of the country’s pricing structure vis-à-vis those of the country’s major regional trading partners and distil lessons there from, which could be applied in the national context.
“It should be noted that while the study was limited to selected factors within the overall cost of doing business from the perspective of the private enterprise, a holistic internal cost reduction is needed for the country to regain its competitiveness regionally and globally,” said Minister Bimha.
The study also revealed that beyond transport, importing and exporting in Zimbabwe is subject to red tape, excessive and opaque processes, frequent solicitation of informal payments (bribes), and other self-inflicted non-tariff barriers like numerous road blocks on the same route.