Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Syndication Writer
As Zimbabwe continues to implement measures and policies that will promote the inflow of investment into the economy, it has become imperative that Government accelerates reforms to the ease of doing business as this has been a drawback in achieving that goal. Not only has the country been persistently ranked poorly on the Global Competitiveness Report, but on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report and the Global Corruption Index as well, just to mention a few.
Zimbabwe is ranked number 126 out of 138 in the 2017 Competitiveness Report and number 161 out of 190 countries on the Ease of Doing Business Report. And this hasn’t done much to restore investor confidence in the Southern African nation. But the fact that the highest office in the land has taken an active role in implementing Doing Business reforms makes attaining rankings below 100 in the next few years a more realistic vision to achieve.
The Office of the President and Cabinet has been in charge of implementing reforms through the 100-day Rapid Results Programme which has seen the country registering commendable progress in key thematic areas which include the Starting a Business and Protecting Minority Investors indicators as well as indicators for Construction Permits and Property Registration, Enforcing Contracts and Resolving Insolvency, Getting Credit and Paying Taxes and Trading Across Borders.
Under the initiative, the period for starting a business has been reduced to 15 days from 30 days.
There has also been an improvement in the time it takes to process construction permits from 448 days to 120 days and property registration from 36 days to 14 days.
Government has also come up with a draft for the Companies Bill, made amendments to the Banking Act to provide for the establishment of a credit registry, and gazette model building by-laws under the programme.
In his State of the Nation Address on Tuesday, President Mugabe noted the importance of ease of doing business in promoting investment.
“I am pleased to note the tremendous progress achieved so far in accelerating the Ease of Doing Business, thereby promoting both domestic and foreign investment,” he said.
President Mugabe also said the recent promulgation of the Special Economic Zones Act should push the country’s economic turnaround by “facilitating foreign direct investment inflows, industrialisation, technology transfer, employment creation and increased export receipts.”
Special economic zones have been instrumental in export oriented development in Asia and Latin America.
Analysts, however, believe that for SEZs to become successful in Zimbabwe, there is a need to “design and implement them effectively” to ensure their success.
According to Dr Gift Mugano, failure of SEZs can usually be traced back to the “initial planning stages and derive from an ineffective regulatory and institutional framework”.
With the SEZs Act in place, it becomes imperative that Government engages the private sector in the development of the special economic zones to ensure effective implementation and the resultant investment inflows.
The need for Government to work hand-in-hand with the private sector cannot be overemphasised when it comes to improving domestic investment flows.
President Mugabe reiterated that the time is ripe for the Tripartite Negotiating Forum consisting of business, labour and Government to come up with measures that will attract investment for the country.
“Investor friendly measures to boost confidence, productivity, competitiveness, should be strengthened, while key tenets of good corporate governance and policy consistency are also vigorously pursued,” he said.
He said social partners need to come up with ways to reduce the cost of doing business which has contributed immensely to the uncompetitiveness of Zimbabwean goods and services. The Zimbabwean economy is currently overvalued by at least 45 percent owing to the use of the US dollar which makes production more expensive in Zimbabwe than its regional peers.
If the TNF can agree on ways to implement a reduction on the cost of doing business, from the high cost of finance to the extremely high cost of exporting the finished product, Zimbabwe can become more competitive and a more friendlier destination for investment.
It just needs Government and the private sector to put their best foot forward and implement policies in a clear, precise and transparent manner.
And all this will be happening with the blessing of the Office of the President and Cabinet.
So why shouldn’t it work? – Zimpapers Syndication.