|Spare a thought for local printers|
|Monday, 11 July 2011 02:00|
By Chemist Mafuba
"However, it is vital that we get the necessary support that we need from the Government and the donor community to boost the industry and create more jobs. As we are discussing, Unicef is seeking to have books for secondary schools worth US$52 million printed outside the country when the industry in Zimbabwe has the capacity to do the job."
"It is important to note that the industry is in dire need of recapitalisation for it to recover from the effects of the period of challenges that the country has been going through," he said.
"Over the years, Zimbabwe has always printed its own books. Our industry is prepared to continue with this proud tradition. But, we need the requisite support from the Government and the donor community that is vital for our survival. We want to create more jobs for more people with the potential that is there," he said.
"The printing of books outside the country could create jobs for 10 000 at a time when our industry is poised to play its part in the reconstruction of our economy."
Ntini said the aim of the federation is basically to ensure the existence, the survival and the growth of the industry in Zimbabwe through linking policymakers, the Government and the organisation standing for employers and employees.
"It is critical the printing industry be nurtured by providing timely financial incentives to ensure that all printing requirements, in particular school textbooks, are done locally," he said.
A staggering 80 percent of the order for the textbooks that the nation needs for primary schools went outside Zimbabwe, when the capacity that is available in the country remains idle.
The US$52 million that the donors will extend to meet the order for books for secondary schools will go out of the country.
"That issue can be resolved in favour of Zimbabwe if the will is there. There is no country that has come out of an economic crisis like Zimbabwe which can open to outside competition before it has recapitalised its industry to ensure that it is viable.
"Even in the long-term, companies have to trade with care. The future of companies that continue printing the same textbooks and of some of the local publishing houses that handle those orders can't be assured."
That measure breathed a new lease of life into printing companies that had been going through a restructuring exercise that required painful decisions to be taken. A move along similar lines would help nurture printing companies for the young people in Zimbabwe that the Government would like to see controlling the resources of the country.
The way in which orders for books are processed should take into account the requirements for future reprints that companies that are outside the country might not be able to fulfil.
"This has resulted in a significant number of workers having to relocate. Our industry needs to be given the means with which to find its own feet through preferential trade that will give it ample space to restructure its operations."
This is an on-going exercise that is requires policies and financial inducement that can enable companies to diversify their operations as and when need arises.
"The effect of lack of funding has been that we can't compete with companies in other countries that have been able to modernise their operations through financial injections and preferential trade policies.
"The federation is writing position documents to contribute to policy formulation in relevant areas. Other countries have managed to deal with these issues by putting high duty on printing products that local companies could do."
Ntini reassured the Trust running the Trade Fair that writers have nothing to worry about getting their books printed.
"It is important to note that, even before recapitalisation of this industry, capacity remains for printing all the school textbooks required for this country," he said.