Govt eyes one-stop-shop investment centre Cde Mike Bimha

Herald Business Correspondent
GOVERNMENT has started gathering input from the private sector on the possible merger of six entities to form a one-stop shop investment centre.

According to preliminary work, eight entities have been proposed to be part of the one-stop-shop, but only three are likely to be wholly merged while the rest will have desk representation.

At an input meeting last Friday, Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development Minister Mike Bimha, said Cabinet had put an “urgent sticker” to the process following the visit by the Rwanda Development Board chief executive Clare Akamanzi.

The country may not necessarily follow the Rwandan model to the dot but the meetings had presented the country with a working case study.

The Rwanda Development Board was created in 2008 with the aim of fast tracking Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth.

RDB is organised around five economic cluster departments, namely Agriculture, Services, Tourism and Conservation, Information and Communication Technology and Trade and Manufacturing.

It also has three cross-cutting departments including Investment Promotion and Implementation, Assets and Business Management and Human Capital and Institutional Development.

Under Zimbabwe’s preliminary framework, eight institutions have been lined up to fall under the Zimbabwe Investment Development Authority (ZIDA) and these are the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA), the Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA), the Joint Venture unit, ZimTrade, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, Department of Immigration, Environment Management Authority and the Registrar of Companies.

However, there is the realisation that some of these units do not go together in terms of processes and Minister Bimha said at the core of the merger will be ZIA, SEZA and the JV unit while other organisations such as ZimTrade, which Government doesn’t wholly own and does not look at inward investments, would only have desk representation.

“There are challenges if we collapse eight institutions into one. The route that we might take is to have desk representation of the other organisations, which are not necessarily compatible but are key in the investment process.”

By merging the entities or bringing in their representativesGovernment hopes to reduce the time investors take to get their projects approved as all procedures will be done under one roof.

Minister Bimha acknowledged that the concept of a One-Stop Shop Investment centre was approved during former President Mugabe’s Government in 2010 but there had been no movement as representatives of the chosen organisations seconded “low ranking officials who had no authority to make decisions.

“Actually this low calibre staff would then refer back to their superiors and therefore the centre was never a priority.”

This time, however, things would be done differently.

“We have acknowledged the role of the private sector

and what Cabinet agreed on was that we should get input from them.

“The private sector plays a key role in the ease of doing business reforms; they played a key role on Statutory Instrument 64 and the establishment of the National Competitive Commission. So these interactions and participation of the private sector is key.

“The private sector should come up with a concept paper to present to Cabinet.”

He said added to this was the fact that President Mnangagwa had demonstrated political will by personally inviting the Rwanda Development Board CEO to share her experience.

To see through the process, Minister Bimha said the Office of the President and Cabinet had formed different committees to deal with the institutional, regulatory and funding framework of the proposed entity.

At the meeting, the private sector was agreeable to the formation of ZIDA although there was a suggestion to call the entity Zimbabwe Investment and Trade Authority (ZITA).

However, before the merger happens there was need for the planning authority, in this case the OPC in consultation with various stakeholders to come up with a clear definition or objective of what the Government needs to do and achieve.

“The purpose of ZIDA must be defined first and then the roles that ZIDA requires to carry out and authority that ZIDA requires to carry out this role should then be incorporated,” said CZI president Sifelani Jabangwe.

Minister Bimha also said what would be key is have a good ICT backing and the need for a monitoring and evaluation unit before the one stop entity can be set up.

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