Zimbabwe: Govt, Bankers to Meet Over $18bn Covid-19 Package

Senior Business Reporter

GOVERNMENT would soon meet bankers to address bottlenecks that are hindering the smooth disbursement of the $18 billion Covid-19 stimulus and rescue package to industry.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, said this on Friday in response to concerns by business leaders who said they were facing challenges accessing the facility.

The Government availed the $18 billion Covid-19 stimulus and rescue package last year of which about 72 percent was meant for reviving production and business while 28 percent was for further upgrades of health services.

However, during the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce trade conference held in Bulawayo last Friday, it emerged that businesses were finding it difficult to access the resources under the facility from the banking sector.

Responding to questions from the floor, Prof Ncube, who attended the conference through a virtual platform said the stimulus package was still open and the private sector should come forward and through their banks to request credit support from the facility.

"Government through Treasury will provide a guarantee, so obviously we are going to assess every request to see if the request is within what we think we should be supporting," he said.

"So, please don't give up, l am going to engage banks to see where the blockages are in getting these applications to Treasury.

"I am planning to have a meeting with CEOs (chief executive officers) of banks in the next week or two so that we talk specifically about these issues," said Prof Ncube.

The Covid-19 stimulus and rescue package, which constitutes nine percent of Zimbabwe's Gross Domestic Product, cuts across all productive sectors and seeks to ensure that they get the critical liquidity to kick-start operations and protect jobs.

The social side of the package is aimed at strengthening and expanding existing social safety nets and up-scaling investments in social and economic infrastructure, including recovery of assets destroyed by floods.

The ZWL$18 billion stimulus package was broken down as follows: Agriculture support (ZWL$6,08 billion), Working Capital Fund (ZWL$3,02 billion), Mining Sector Fund (ZWL$1 billion), Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Support Fund (ZWL$500 million), Arts Sector Fund (ZWL$20 million), Liquidity Release from Statutory Reserves (ZWL$2 billion), Health Sector Support Fund (ZWL$1 billion), Broad Relief Measures (ZWL$1,50 billion), Food Grant (ZWL$2,40 billion).

Prof Ncube said to show Government's commitment towards supporting the productive sectors of the economy, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Monetary Policy Committee has approved the ZWL$500 million SMEs Fund.

"Last week, you saw what the Treasury did working with the Central Bank's Monetary Policy Committee in approving the ZWL$500 million facility for SMEs, which is again available to the banks, so already you can see the initiatives that Government is taking.

"We want to support your businesses right through the Covid-19 period and we all work together towards realising Vision 2030," he said.

Under Vision 2030, the Second Republic envisages an upper middle-income economy status where among positive developments, Zimbabwe will deliver more jobs with employment rate rising to 80 percent and a Gross National Income of US$4 000 per month.

Already the Government has set the tone towards Vision 2030 through restoring macro-economic stability under the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), which ran from 2018-2020.

Riding on the gains of the TSP, the Government has launched the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) to anchor the economy from 2021-2025 after which a second five-year National Development Strategy will be rolled out from 2026-2030.

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