THE Chronicle today hosts industry and commerce executives in Bulawayo to deliberate on key fiscal policy measures needed to catalyse industry revival in the city and contribute to the country’s economic growth.
The event also draws participation from economic experts, consultants and representatives from the small to medium enterprises sector, which is increasingly becoming a haven for thousands of entrepreneurs. The event is expected to generate recommendations that will be submitted to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development as input for inclusion in the crafting of the 2018 national budget policy statement. Government, through the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget and Finance, is also gathering countrywide stakeholder input ahead of the budget presentation before the end of the year.
Coming against the backdrop of the collapse of several firms in Bulawayo and the attendant loss of jobs in the last decade, the pre-budget dialogue engagement seeks to add impetus to the urgency for the formulation of fiscal policy support measures that could assist ailing companies and consolidate gains achieved so far.
In this regard, participants are expected to engage on a variety of topics that include the ongoing debate around the crafting of a local content policy to tame imports. Discussions will also touch on the taxation framework in Zimbabwe and interrogate the cost drivers that impede production growth.
These will be discussed within the context of the state of Bulawayo industries in particular and the general economic performance in the country.
Renowned economist and consultant, Dr Gift Mugano, will lead the discussion on local content policy while respected academic and researcher, Dr Nyasha Kaseke, will facilitate engagement on the tax framework. The duo will share the stage with Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) Matabeleland Chapter president, Mr Joseph Gunda, who will deliver an address on the state of Bulawayo industries and highlight the existing opportunities and threats.
Zimpapers board chairman and prominent Bulawayo businessman, Mr Delma Lupepe, will deliver the welcome remarks and open the stage for deliberations. Senior company executives will also attend the event. The revival of Bulawayo industries is at the heart of the Government top priorities under Zim-Asset hence the adoption of initiatives such as the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) concept, which are expected to increase investment in the economy. The city has already been designated as a manufacturing SEZ although modalities for a particular model are being finalised.
The model ties closely with the broader value addition and beneficiation thrust under Zim-Asset, which seeks to ensure the country derives maximum benefits from its industrial processes, thereby creating more job opportunities along value chains.
The discussion is also expected to take serious note of the role of the SMEs in the economy and how the opportunities in this sector could be harnessed.
The engagement outcomes are also expected to dovetail with the on-going ease of doing business thrust spearheaded by the Office of the President and Cabinet to improve the business and investment climate in the country as a whole. This is in conformity with the accelerated implementation of Zim-Asset and the 10-Point Plan, in order to promote the growth of the economy.
Optimism is high that given adequate support, Bulawayo could be restored as a vibrant manufacturing hub that will absorb trained personnel and create jobs.