Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
GOVERNMENT has embarked on the second round of Ease of Doing Business Reforms targeting 16 areas seen as critical in expediting the implementation of reforms aimed at creating a conducive environment to attract investment.
In the 2020 National Budget Statement presented last week, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said of late, Government has been implementing necessary reforms to improve the ease of doing business in Zimbabwe.
While progress has been made in this regard with the World Bank acknowledging the country as one of the best performers in the world in 2019, Prof Ncube said the reform pace has been slow requiring a paradigm shift in future.
“Hence, the 2020 National Budget seeks to expedite the reform initiative. With the thrust of creating a conducive environment for attracting investment, Government has embarked on the second round of ease of doing business reforms, targeting 16 areas including improvements in paying taxes, obtaining construction permits, starting a business, ease of doing transport business, clearance of imports and exports among other areas,” he said.
As part of efforts to improve the ease of doing business in the country, Prof Ncube said the Government was working on operationalising the one-stop-shop investment centre to reduce the bureaucratic process of registering, licencing, and facilitating investments and operations of companies.
“This is culminating in the establishment of a consolidated Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency. The Bill is before Parliament for enactment,” he said.
Of late, the Government has taken a thrust of an export-led economy and to support the growth of the sector, Prof Ncube said in the 2020 National Budget, Government was setting up an Export Revolving Fund.
It is hoped that the facility will play a critical role in supporting respective companies with foreign currency requirements geared towards export production.
“This fund will initially target horticulture, among other low hanging ventures and a seed capital of US$20 million is being set aside and will be effective from January 1, 2020.”
Prof Ncube noted that Zimbabwe has been one of Africa’s traditional major exporters of horticultural products, alongside Kenya and Ethiopia for most of the late 1980s up to the early 2000s.
According to the Horticultural Development Council of Zimbabwe, the country’s horticultural exports increased from only US$6 million in the 1987/88 season, to US$103 million by 1997.
The exports grew by an annual average rate of 25 percent for the period 1998 to 2004 peaking at above US$250 million by the early 2000s.
“Therefore, Government is engaging key horticultural producers with a view to putting in place appropriate financing facilities which will draw from the Export Revolving Fund,” Prof Ncube said. [email protected]