The Matabeleland Chamber of Industries has proposed a 12-month moratorium on statutory debts by existing companies to provide a good starting point for industrial growth under the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) concept.
Bulawayo, once the country's industrial hub, is one of the areas the Government has designated for SEZs. Matabeleland Chamber of Industries (MCI) is the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) chapter covering Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South provinces.
Speaking during a breakfast meeting organised by CZI in Bulawayo last week, MCI executive board member Dr Eli Mtetwa said city firms were saddled with statutory debts owed to institutions such as the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) and the National Social Security Authority (NSSA). "I think due diligence has to be done on incentive to enhance investment to those already existing companies within Bulawayo and within the country.
"For example, we have a proposal of a 12 month moratorium on statutory debts followed by payment arrangement at individual company level or 50 percent write off on statutory debts Companies are saddled by debts owed to Zimra in the form of Pay As You Earn, and debts owed to NSSA and other statutory contributions," he said.
Dr Mtetwa said they came up with the 12-month moratorium proposal on statutory debts in the absence of a possibility of the arrears being completely written off.
The MCI executive board member said industries were failing to meet some of their statutory obligations not out of choice but were constrained by the prevailing economic climate.
Industry and Commerce Deputy Minister Chiratidzo Mabuwa who was the guest of honour said during her recent tour of engineering firms in Bulawayo she noted that a majority of them had sound balance sheets but their potential was being limited by high rental charges by their landlords.
She said the Government would call for rentals to be dictated based on the reality on the ground in terms of economic performance.