Zimbabwe: Industrialists Tell Govt to Reform

Industrialists have blamed government ministries for using statutory instruments for revenue generation at the cost of spurring production, saying there was need for policy and behaviour shift to buttress the ease of doing business in the country.

Of concern is the Statutory Instrument 157 of 2018 (SI157/18) that compels all importers and exporters of food and other related products to be registered and licensed before shipping the goods, according to industry players.

The instrument has been giving exporters a difficult time.

The Agriculture Ministry came under the spotlight at the Confederation of Zimababwe Industries (CZI ) congress in Victoria Falls last week, with speakers saying it had too many regulations that are affecting manufacturers.

Last month, government through Statutory Instrument 145 (SI145) of 2019 also banned the sale or delivery of maize by any person or statutory body except to a contractor or to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), but industrialists have argued that it promotes arbitrage opportunities instead of solving the problem at hand.

Managing consultant Eric Zinyengere said the National Biotech Authority (NBA) promulgated the SI157 without consulting stakeholders to identify the best way in which to do it.

The NBA is an autonomous research and development institution with a mandate to develop Zimbabwe through the application of both conventional and cutting-edge bio-technologies.

Established through the National Biotechnology Authority of Zimbabwe (NBA) Act of 2006 [Chap. 14: 31]; its role is to transform the country from a raw material-based economy into a knowledge-based economy through the judicious application of biotechnology in agriculture, medicine, energy and the environment.

Zinyengere bemoaned regulations which have wreaked havoc on exporting companies.

"The one that seems to be topical at the moment is the NBA one SI157 of 2018 which has led to institutions such as Tanganda having to stop exports due to the quantum of what they would need to pay and NBA has developed this without consulting with such stakeholders to identify the best way in which to do it I think the essence here is that entities need to separate fundraising and regulation for efficiency and efficacy. We also have noted that the Ministry of Agriculture has a plethora of export regulations from multiple departments such as pest and pesticides, veterinary, Agricultural Marketing Authority without some coordinated approach," he said.

Zinyengere said the country needs to focus on regulators being funded through Treasury and their collections going directly to it to limit profiteering.

He added that the excess funds should also be utilised for supporting reforms related to improving the business environment at places like Beitbridge where the funding for infrastructure to support a single window payment system has been limited.

"On a broader scale, industry is definitely over-regulated and as such we need a broad-based approach to interrogating all regulations across each value chain and capacitating the National Competitiveness Commission to support this work and also provide oversight on all future SI's so that these go through the commission to ensure alignment and avoid duplication," he said.

An economist with the Livestock And Meat Advisory Council (LMAC) Reneth Mano said without doubt there was need for rationalisation of entities, as well as budgets to avoid incorporating them into the fiscus.

"The problem is we have too many agendas and too many motives and too many hurdles that are invented with no debatable social gains. For decades Independence there was a socialists approach.

In a way we knew where we wanted to go and how to get there but things have changed. Now we have to work with markets and private sector. Even though we are open for business we are not sure what kind of business we are open for. The need to reform and must begin with reform of our regulatory entities and budget that it allocates to regulatory entities," he said.

Delegates at the congress concurred that it was no longer about regulation but revenue, adding that government must go back to basics by holistically creating an environment conducive for private enterprises to prosper.

Zimbabwe has performed lowly (155 out 190) on the World Bank's ease of doing business ranking, which militates against the country's efforts to lure foreign direct investment to reboot the economy ravaged by decades of economic malpractices.

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