Michael Tome, Harare Bureau
GOVERNMENT is committed to reducing the cost of doing business as the country seeks to attract and retain foreign direct investments, Industry and Commerce Minister Nqobizitha Ndlovu has said.
Minister Ndlovu said this during a tour of Sunny Yi Feng Tiles Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd’s factory in Norton, where he was assessing progress of the project.
The venture, which was granted National Project Status, is expected to be the biggest tile plant in Southern Africa employing at least 1 700 people, with priority being given to those living in surrounding areas.
Sunny Yi Feng Tiles plans to produce tiles for both the domestic and international markets.
Engineers are finalising the installation of machinery ahead of the factory’s official opening end of March or early April this year.
To date $16 million has been injected into the project and Minister Ndlovu said he was impressed by the progression of works at the site.
“We have to acknowledge that there is a lot of work being done here, this is an investment that will total $120 million and that is foreign direct investment coming.
“So far close to $16 million has been invested and as Government, we are quite clear Zimbabwe is open for business and we are also very serious about ease and cost of doing business,” said Minister Ndlovu.
He said all glitches being encountered in setting up the project should be dealt with timeously after it was accorded National Project Status.
Sunny Yi Feng Tiles is facing challenges in bringing the necessary equipment for the project.
“You would appreciate that this company was awarded National Project Status meaning that as they bring capital equipment they do not pay duty.
“They have given us a few challenges that they are facing (and) we have already instructed a team to work with Zimra so that we address the challenges they are facing.
“We want to see such investments take off without any hindrance,” explained Minister Ndlovu.
Sunny Yi Feng Tiles managing director William Gyng indicated that they were establishing huge machinery for the plant, which was coming into the country in pieces or small parts.
It is understood that Zimra officials raised the red flag when they were told the equipment was for “one component”.
“You see, the machine here is so big, so it comes divided into small pieces and the Zimra fellows do not understand that. So sometimes we are paying the duty because we will be in need of the equipment urgently,” said Mr Gyng.
Currently, the company is employing 430 local people.
The plant will be Zimbabwe’s first porcelain venture, with Africa spending an estimated $3,9 billion on imports of porcelain yearly.
The biggest importers of porcelain are Nigeria, South Africa and Algeria. Tile production will begin in April.
Production of porcelain tableware (Chinaware) is earmarked for December.