NCC: How complete is the puzzle?

Competitiveness can be defined as a set of institutions, policies and factors that determine the level of productivity. It can also be defined as the acquisition of more market share, greater profitability and long-term stability and growth of these indicators thereby improving the welfare and living standards of the general populace.

Dumisani Sibanda

In order to achieve economic resuscitation, we must be competitive as a nation, and industry must have a competitive advantage in both the domestic and international markets.

Competitiveness in terms of fundamental attractiveness is needed. Investors simply prefer to invest in countries that are competitive and favourable to market forces were attractive rates of return can be earned.

With Zimbabwe having been termed hostile, it is vital to set up a National Competitiveness Commission (NCC) which will stimulate the growth of enterprises.

Addressing competitiveness issues will see the country move from the consumption-led growth to an investment-led growth. Research into areas of competitiveness will give much-needed economic boost at a time of rising global competition.

this will put us on the global competitiveness map for the next century, creating jobs and sustainable growth. The quality of exportable goods would be greatly enhanced by this tracking, and millions of meaningful, respected, well-paying trade jobs with good benefits will be created.

The setting up of the NCC in June this year by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce will play an important role in fostering exports and attracting foreign direct investments. The NCC will play a pivotal role as a key criterion for assessing the success of industries and companies in determining the level of productivity.

We are in the hub of an increasingly open and integrated world economy where countries compete for investment and human capital that are critical to economic growth.

Against such a background, there is need to focus on national competitiveness, and having the commission will help monitor the cost drivers in the business and economic environment. The proposed commission will also advise on measures that should be taken to address current and emerging cost challenges. Competitiveness is not an end in itself, but a means to achieving sustainable improvements in growth and living standards.

With some of the NCC functions being to undertake research and maintain a comprehensive nationwide statistical database to be used in the analysis of competitiveness across all sectors of the economy and developing periodic competitiveness frameworks and strategies, provision of such data is vital given that investors look at these aspects when making investment decisions. Globalisation has increased the returns to productivity by opening up large new markets for competitive countries hence the need for the country to be competitive.

The commission will monitor, investigate and analyse costs and price trends of goods and services in Zimbabwe and benchmark them with those prevailing in the region and beyond.

It will also provide regular reviews and updates on capacity utilisation in various sectors of the economy and will promote public understanding and disseminate information on matters related to competitiveness and conduct related stakeholder training, education and awareness campaigns.

The competitiveness commission will also look at the 12 pillars of competitiveness to provide evidence and identify the country’s competitiveness.

Institutions

Competitiveness centres on well-functioning private and public sector institutions and the commission will look at the framework within which individuals, private sector firms and government interact to generate wealth.

Infrastructure

The commission will also address issues to do with quality and availability of transport, electricity and communication infrastructure so that we become competitive as a country. This pillar is important in that it determines the integration of the local market and connecting it at low cost to markets in other countries and regions.

Macro-economics

The commission will evaluate the stability of the macro-economic environment. Macro-economic disarray harms the economy hence the stability of the macro-economic environment is vital for business and is important for the overall competitiveness of the country.

Health, primary education

This pillar will see the commission take into account the quantity and quality of the basic education received in the country, which is important in the global economy.

Higher education

The commission will also look into developing more efficient production processes and increase product quality. This is important for the economy to move up across the value chain beyond simple production processes and products.

Goods market efficiency

The commission will ensure that the market is efficient and that it is well-positioned to produce the right mix of products and services which can be effectively traded in the economy.

Labour market efficiency

The commission will look into factors which have a positive effect on the labour market and the attractiveness of the country for talent.

Financial market

This pillar entails looking at the efficiency of the financial sector so that resources saved by the nation’s citizens, as well as those entering from abroad are channelled to their most productive sectors.

Technological readiness

This pillar measures the agility with which the economy adopts existing technologies to enhance the productivity of industries with emphasis on its capacity to fully leverage information and communication technologies in daily activities and production processes for increased efficiency and enabling innovation for competitiveness.

Market size

Markets available to firms have been constrained by national borders. In the era of globalisation, international markets have become a substitute for domestic markets and the commission will look into these facets so that the country becomes competitive.

Business sophistication

NCC will also look into the quality of overall business networks and the quality of individual firms’ operations and strategies.

Innovation

The commission will also focus on technological innovation given that this is important for the economy to improve productivity by adopting existing technologies and making incremental improvements in other areas.

By looking at the 12 pillars of competitiveness, the NCC will translate into improved productivity, and will go a long way in the establishment of far-reaching structural and institutional reforms, affiliated with much higher levels of investment, especially in infrastructure.

Going forward, companies and industries must be well competitive in domestic and international markets in order to survive. With respect to recent global competitiveness and the dynamic environment, Zimbabwe needs to have a competitive advantage.

This means creating and sustaining superior performance through the NCC, which is the piece to complete the competitiveness puzzle.

The NCC will act as a more suitable and efficient mechanism to tackle sovereign and perception risk through international road shows. It will provide an opportunity to interrogate value chain linkages for key industries.

The commission will also provide a platform to address the overvaluation of the US dollar, given that it will continuously monitor the cost drivers in the business and economic environment. It will also advise on measures to be taken to address current and emerging cost challenges.

The commission will see sectorial interests addressed. It will also disintegrate information asymmetry.

Sibanda is a senior economist at the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce. These New Perspectives articles are coordinated by Lovemore Kadenge, president of the Zimbabwe Economics Society, e-mail: kadenge.zes@gmail.com and Cell +263 772 382 852.

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