Be proactive, private sector told

Government’s role is to monitor and regulate the domestic economy, but the private sector should play a more “robust” role in facilitating the creation of an investor-friendly environment, Finance and Economic Planning Minister Patrick Chinamasa has said.

The minister’s remarks come within the context of the recent announcement by Government of an extensive plan for the privatisation of parastatals and State-owned enterprises (SEPs) earlier this year.

So far, the Government has published a priority list of companies including Air Zimbabwe, National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), Cold Storage Company (CSC), Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), Netone, Telone, Zimpost, POSB, Industrial Development Corporation of Zimbabwe (IDCZ) subsidiaries, Olivine Holdings, Agribank, and CAPS Holdings among others.

Minister Chinamasa said given Government’s limited role in undertaking direct investments in the economy, the private sector should have a more proactive role in the domestic economy.

“A robust domestic industry remains key to attracting foreign investment. I would, therefore, urge our local industry to be proactive. Government does not have any role to play in the space where the private sector should be playing.

“Our role as Government is to create an environment conducive for profitable investment,” he said.

The Treasury chief said this yesterday while officiating at the secondary relisting of Old Mutual Zimbabwe on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE).

He said private sector companies should take a leaf from Old Mutual Zimbabwe, which was carrying out a number of critical social investment projects.

“The financial services giant has entered into several Private-Public Partnerships with our Government to help reduce the impact of social challenges.

“In 2017, by way of example, Old Mutual commissioned the Kupinga Hydro Power Station which is currently connected to the national grid and changing the quality of life for several                   people.

“Old Mutual is also providing much needed SME agricultural financing through CABS. The support is towards the activities of smallholder banana and sugar plantation farmers. This is an important strategy that is key to promoting inclusive development,” said Minister Chinamasa.

Old Mutual has also been contributing to the reduction of the national housing backlog through its investments, as a private player, to help provide housing to Zimbabweans.

And indications are that the financial services group’s Budiriro low-cost housing project  has already sold 78 percent of the completed housing units.

In another significant social investment project, Old Mutual Zimbabwe is nearing completion of the new Eastgate Market, a first of its kind SME Centre, which will provide 12 000 square meters of lettable space and 380 trading bays for use mostly by SMEs.

Minister Chinamasa said Government will continue to formulate and implement various direct and indirect measures to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country.

“International re-engagement and re-integration into the global economy remain the corner-stone of our strategic thrust. We cannot afford to remain outside the global economy.

“Government has adopted an open-for-business policy underpinned by transparency and swiftness to improve the ease of doing business in Zimbabwe. Already we have looked at legislation that has been inhibiting business coming into Zimbabwe and we continue to change it to enable the transformation we wish to see.

“This is a visible shift in direction that we have undertaken in pursuit of rapid economic growth and a trajectory of transformation is beginning to bear fruit.”