The year 2016 for the business sector ended with the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) hosting the 2nd Edition of the Business Review Conference, which ran under the theme “Stepping Up the Battle Against Implementation Deficiency” on December 8 at a Harare lodge.
In his welcome remarks, the ZNCC president Davison Norupiri pointed out that as the “Voice of Business”, the chamber held a number of conferences since January which focused on addressing economic challenges affecting the nation.
The 2016 Business Review Conference was as a result of the need to evaluate “how the nation has progressed in terms of economic and business growth” in the implementation of programmes and policies which were targeted for the year and identify areas of improvement for 2017. The conference came at a time after government put some measures like Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016, which removed some products from the open general import licence, so as to boost local production.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was the supporting partner for the event and economic advisor Udo Etukudo spoke about “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Private Sector Development”. He pointed out that SDGs defined the global development vision of the future and that the active participation of the private sector is a principle driver of achieving the SDGs through an inclusive growth process and through a private sector-led investment strategy.
In her opening remarks, Industry and Commerce Deputy minister Chiratidzo Mabuwa extended her gratitude to the ZNCC for organising a unique platform for government and business organisations to meet and deliberate on key issues. She pointed out that the revival of the economy is pinned on the stimulation of local industry through various policy interventions and the government through her ministry. She said government is committed to facilitating the value-addition and beneficiation of local resources as encapsulated in the ZimAsset economic blue-print’s 10-point plan.
Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa officiated at the conference as the guest of honour. In his keynote address he applauded the ZNCC for convening the conference.
The vice-president acknowledged the pivotal role that business continues to play in the development of the country. He said the government is also grateful for the cordial relations it continues to enjoy with business, particularly in relation to the engagement in the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF).
On the state of the economy, Mnangagwa said some of the problems facing Zimbabwe include market confidence, domestic production, liquidity challenges and debt overhang. He pointed out that government is currently implementing policies to regain public confidence and applauded the banking sector for coming up with innovative products meant to promote transactions on digital and electronic platforms.
Panel discussions were held with topical discussions being brought to the table and interactive sessions ensuing.
The first presentation came from Simon Nyarota, director of economic research with the Central Bank. He gave a review of the 2016 monetary policy interventions and highlighted that the measures announced through monetary policy statements have either been fully implemented or the implementation is ongoing.
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority acting commissioner-general Happias Kuzvinzwa presented on “how the 2016 tax policy fared and the important issues to business to enhance tax compliance”. He focused on key fiscal and trade policy measures for the 2016 fiscal year, which he said were mainly meant to consolidate and support local industry and improve efficiency in the tax administration
Professor Tony Hawkins gave an overview of the realities and prospects for the Zimbabwean economy in a dollarised environment. He mentioned the overvalued exchange rate and its effects and regressive structural changes as growth constraints for the country for the 2017/18 period and long-term structural problems.
George Makings, a prominent labour consultant, presented on Zimbabwe labour laws and human resources capital realities and expectations from business. He singled out one major amendment to the Labour Act since 2009, which came into effect in August 2015 whose impetus was to make the labour law more investor-friendly.
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe president and NicozDiamond Insurance general manager Gloria Zvaravanhu spoke on corporate governance. She gave an overview of the economy and spoke on enablers in the environment, effects of governance failures and how to move forward.
The Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) also spoke on the investment climate in the country, focusing on areas that needed urgent address in light of the recent drop in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Rankings.
ZIA CEO Richard Mbaiwa spoke on areas needing address and the way forward.
Bureau Veritas country manager Tendai Malunga also presented on the Consignment-Based Conformity Assessment Programme (CBCA) and discussed the grey areas that the business community sought clarity on.
With all having been said and done, ZNCC chief economist Dumisani Sibanda thanked everyone who took part in making the conference a success. He further pointed out that as the Voice of Business, the ZNCC will lobby on various policy issues raised during the conference to the relevant authorities.
For detailed presentations of the Business Review Conference, kindly visit ZNCC website on http//www.zncc.co.zw or contact ZNCC on firstname.lastname@example.org or 04 293 5530/1