‘Business think tank on cards’
Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
A BUSINESS council to enhance economic dialogue between business and Government as part of efforts to rebuild the economy under the Second Republic is on the cards.
Writing in his weekly column published by our sister paper, The Sunday News yesterday, President Mnangagwa reiterated that Zimbabwe is open for business adding that the country cannot be open for business when it is closed for economic dialogue.
“Correctly, business criticised us for undermining confidence and certainty in the market and beyond. Cheap and reckless talk has further raised the already high country risk.
“To narrow the communication gap, I have embraced the idea of a business council to advise me and Government. At the Monday meeting, I requested that business forward names so that such an advisory body is urgently constituted,” he said.
Apart from the business council, President Mnangagwa said because Zimbabwe operates in the global market, he has taken a decision to create another advisory body comprising international experts who will keep him well-informed on international business and investment issues.
“The catchment for such a team will be global, both geographically and by way of the range of experience. Zimbabwe must improve her international appeal for FDI (Foreign Direct Investment),” he said.
President Mnangagwa said he was also pleased about how minds and arguments criss-crossed beyond sectoral boundaries during the business breakfast meeting he had with business at State House in Harare last Monday.
The President said in rebuilding the economy, Government and the private sector should move in unison.
“We had not met (at the Monday breakfast meeting) to ventilate institutional positions, to cast aspersions or to dig in. Shortcomings were admitted to; criticisms and suggestions were embraced in a positive spirit,” he said.
President Mnangagwa noted that building an enduring partnership between Government and the private sector requires mutual acceptance.
“Business leaders must know and appreciate the political realities and pressures which face Government, thus informing and limiting its choices and decisions. Likewise, Government must know and understand pressures, sensitivities and opportunities in the market which shape and constrain business choices and options,” he said.
“Above all, Government must appreciate that in business, time and quick turnaround time for decisions are of essence. Once there is such convergence, consensus on shared national goals becomes easier to build and achieve.”
The President also said he was in full agreement with local industrialists that short-term measures to meet the supply gap on basic commodities in the market should not undermine Zimbabwe’s long-term industrialisation strategy.
Recently, Government suspended Statutory Instrument 122 (SI 64 of 2016).
President Mnangagwa said the suspension of SI 122 was temporary and was only meant to meet the surge in consumer demand during the upcoming festive season as well as to plug the raw materials supply gap for industry between now and the next harvest.
He noted that more and better jobs come from growing the local manufacturing capacity than from trading in imported goods.
“But our manufacturers must earn the nation’s trust by operating and trading ethically. Sadly, this has not been so in the last three or so weeks. Government took to heart the cry that the two percent transactional tax has compounded the tax burden for both business and for the consumer,” he said.