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ZNCC to craft new measures to guide firms

INDUSTRY leaders are next month expected to draw up a fresh blueprint to guide companies through a difficult political transition whose effects have forced production capacity to stagnate at 30% despite quick early gains.

Most firms recorded growth after the relative stability that followed the formation of the coalition government in February 2009.

Industry is however again being called to craft new measures to take companies from the current mode to growth.

The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC), which groups local business, said this week it would meet in July to work on a blueprint to assist firms.

Following years of hyperinflation, arbitrary price controls and foreign currency shortages, Zimbabwe liberalised its economy last February after the formation of a coalition government between President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara.
But the liberalisation has not yielded much for local manufacturers despite a rise in capacity utilisation to 30% from less than 10% recorded in 2008.

Companies continue to be dogged by an energy crisis, limited lines of credit and costly short-term loans, unviable public utility tariffs and intense competition from imported goods. These problems, according to the ZNCC, have made plans to lift output to optimal capacity unattainable.

ZNCC vice president Trust Chikohora told businessdigest last week that the chamber’s July annual congress would adopt a new plan that would succeed the 2008 business manifesto adopted by the outgoing presidium at the height of hyperinflation.

“In July, the congress will come up with a new document that would replace the business manifesto of 2008. We feel that it is now time for companies to adopt a plan that ensures that they move away from stability to economic growth,” said Chikohora, whose term expires after the congress.

The business manifesto of October 2008 was, among other things, targeting the restoration of Zimbabwe’s dilapidated infrastructure, improve the country risk and identify competitive advantages for local companies.

Outgoing president, Obert Sibanda, who was also elected at the 2008 annual congress, is expected to resign after serving two terms.

“Having achieved that stability after the hyperinflationary era, we now have new challenges. There is low demand (for local products), no disposable income and business is finding it difficult to grow. The country is also finding it difficult to achieve economic growth”, Chikohora said.

The ZNCC vice president said the ratification of the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement between Zimbabwe and South Africa was also expected to create growth opportunities for companies.

“Most companies that have successfully recapitalised sourced capital from South Africa,” Chikohora said.

Bernard Mpofu


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