‘Industry poised for growth in 2019’

Industry and Commerce Minister Nqobizitha Ndlovu says the manufacturing sector is poised for positive growth this year, riding on expanded capacity and new investments made in 2018.

As such, he said Government would continue to support the productive sector by creating a favourable business environment to consolidate domestic and foreign investment.

Despite the liquidity constraints, Minister Ndlovu told Business Chronicle that a number of initiatives were being put in place, working closely with industry, to ignite further growth and foster domestic economic turnaround.

“This is the year we have to pool our energies together for the betterment of our country. I will be meeting most of the players in industry to brainstorm most of the challenges we are facing,” he said.

“We have good programmes that we have started together that we have to see that we carry forward. Our target really is to set our own goals that are achievable . . . growth that is inclusive in terms of employment creation and addressing the issues that are affecting us.”

Such initiatives include the import substitution programme and various other Statutory Instruments that deal with import control.

“More than anything, industry is also very confident that this is the year for us to turn the corner as significant progress was recorded last year,” said the minister.

He noted that some of the challenges facing local industry were coming from the progress and achievements made last year where production levels improved remarkably and that meant increased importation of raw materials.

“Some of the import bill components really have to do with equipment that was brought in for retooling and thus it’s not entirely a bleak picture in terms of our import bill.

“We want to continue doing much more on production and the side of export development as well,” said Minister Ndlovu.

He pointed out that the Government was also keen to see local products penetrating regional and international markets and thus initiatives to promote exports growth and development were being coined with the involvement of the business.

Minister Ndlovu said Zimbabwe was worried about the rising import bill that had been worsened by the importation of certain products where Zimbabwe has the capacity to produce locally. In this light, the Government is working on crafting sustainable austerities to address issues of competitiveness and quality, among others.

“From my ministry’s point of view, we will consolidate efforts by the Government in general to have an environment that is conducive for investment both domestic and foreign.

“As you would know, we have a number of bills, which we hope would have sailed through by the end of the first quarter. We also have issues to do with consumer protection and that bill is likely to go into Parliament in the first quarter,” said Minister Ndlovu.

“We are saying we cannot focus on industry growing the economy without entrenching the values and rights of our consumers. So, when we talk of inclusive growth, we talk of growth that also considers consumers.”

Commenting on businesses that are pushing for pricing in foreign currency, Minister Ndlovu said: “I think the statement is clear, not in this Government. It’s quite pronounced that it is a multicurrency regime. So, I don’t expect anyone to do that really.

“And for Delta what I am quite happy about is that we discussed the matter. We were even seized with their issues before their statement.”

The country’s largest beverages producer, Delta Corporation, last week issued a statement intending to sell its products exclusively in hard currency. However, it reversed the decision after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on Thursday assured the beverages manufacturer that the Central Bank would provide the forex to fund its import requirements.

“We were also a bit shocked to see those developments (Delta pegging prices in forex). But we discussed everything at length and we made it clear that we still have to operate within the Government dictates in terms of policy and our policy is that it’s a multicurrency system.

“So, if ever there is any company that decides to take that route, it will be taking its chance, which might not be met with our extended engagement hand that was extended to Delta but we don’t expect that there would be any such,” said Minister Ndlovu. - Chronicle