11 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Byo Industries Uncertain Over 2013 Prospects

BULAWAYO - Industry players in Bulawayo have said they remain uncertain over prospects in 2013 but warned a planned referendum on a new constitution and subsequent elections could impact negatively on business operations.

They said the rainy season was also not promising, a situation that could affect businesses.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries Matabeleland chapter president, Cletus Moyo, said the success of business in the New Year would largely dependent on a good rainy season, which he however said, looked gloomy.

"I can't tell whether this year is going to be good or bad for businesses, as it will depend on a good rainy season, but at the moment it is not promising," Moyo said.

The rains have been erratic since the onset of the season late November last year.

Moyo said a successful rainy season would be good for agriculture and boost food security while improving consumers' purchasing power, in the process contributing to the growth of the manufacturing sector, which performed last year dismally.

"We are also yet to see what happens politically in terms of referendum and elections," added Moyo.

He said he did not foresee any improvement in funding for businesses this year, with the Distressed Industries and Marginalised Areas Fund having failed to yield meaningful results in the resuscitation of ailing Bulawayo companies.

He added that it would be even difficult for a number of Bulawayo companies under judicial management to fully recover in 2013, arguing financing remained inadequate.

Last year, owing to a poor agricultural season and subdued business, Finance Minister Tendai Biti was forced to slash his US$4 billion budget to US$3,6 billion, revising the projected Gross Domestic Product growth from 9,4 percent to 5,6 percent and then to 4,4 percent.

This year, revenue is projected at US$3,8 billion, while the economy is expected to grow by five percent, but also subject to a good agricultural season, Biti said.

The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce Bulawayo chapter executive committee member, Tshidzanani Malaba said: "I think 2013 is going to be a good year for business but of course minus the political side."

He said more investors had developed interest in Zimbabwe and were now confident in the country as a safe investment destination.

"Mining is growing already and it should lift up this economy and I believe 2013 should be a foundational year for growth," added Malaba.

The tourism sector is expected to receive a major boost in August with the hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly in Victoria Falls.

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