Oliver Kazunga, Acting Business Editor
THE 2020 manufacturing sector report to be released soon is expected to bring into perspective both the impact of Covid-19 and the containment measures have had on local industry capacity utilisation.
The manufacturing sector survey report is carried out by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), which is the country’s industrial representative body.
Speaking by telephone from Harare yesterday, CZI chief executive officer Ms Sekai Kuvarika said the report would also highlight the effect of various policy interventions Government introduced last year.
“The CZI manufacturing sector survey for 2020 will be released soon. The report will be unique in that it will not just be an analysis, but would also put into perspective both the impact of Covid-19 and the Covid-19 containment measures, how these have affected industrial performance,” he said.
The survey covers 10 industrial sectors including food stuffs, beverages, tobacco, clothing, footwear, furniture, paper (printing), chemicals, non-metallic minerals, transport and equipment.
Capacity utilisation is a key statistic derived from the survey as it details a company and country’s industrial performance.
Ms Kuvarika said the 2020 CZI manufacturing survey was coming at a time when the industry and the nation at large was grappling to contain the spread of the viral disease.
In doing so, she said CZI members have also spent a lot of financial resources trying to contain the pandemic.
Moreso, companies have had their operations disrupted as they tried to adhere to Covid-19 lockdown regulations.
For example, businesses have streamlined operations as part of measures to reduce congestion at the workplace.
On account of a host of challenges like foreign currency shortages, obsolete equipment, and power constraints, capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sector in 2019 dropped to 36,4 percent from 42,8 percent a year earlier.
Said Ms Kuvarika: “The 2020 manufacturing sector report will also put into perspective the impact of policy interventions Government promulgated during the course of the year and how such policies as the Foreign Currency Auction Trading System have had on industrial performance.”
The Government introduced the weekly Foreign Currency Auction Trading System towards the end of June last year to improve access to hard currency by the productive sectors of the economy.
The weekly forex auction trading platform, which replaced a fixed exchange rate of US$1:ZWL$25 has also been hailed for bringing stability of the exchange rate.
At this week’s auction conducted on Tuesday, the exchange rate maintained stability shedding only a unit as the Zimbabwe dollar traded at 82,08 against the greenback from 82,09 last week.
At this week’s auction, a total of US$35,3 million was released, half a million short of last week’s total disbursement.
Raw materials continued to dominate the market determined auction system with US$15,5 million being channelled towards production.
In addition, the retooling exercise of the industry through purchase of machinery and equipment got a boost of US$6,8 million while key economic enablers that are: fuel, electricity and gas received US$3,6 million.
The continued stability of the Zimbabwe dollar against the United States dollar points to the resilience of the prevailing macroeconomic environment.
The Government has challenged the manufacturing industry to fortify exports through import substitution and help the country to save and conserve its limited hard currency. — @okazunga