The Chamber hosted His Excellency Beka Dvali – Georgia Ambassador to Zimbabwe on 23 October 2018. The visit by the Ambassador was meant to unlock investment opportunities in Zimbabwe and to facilitate Joint Venture opportunities given that Georgia is focusing on opening up new markets. The meeting was also meant to discuss cooperation modalities between Zimbabwe and Georgia Businesses and possibilities of having a Zimbabwe Business Delegation to Georgia and a Georgia Business Delegation to Zimbabwe.
The Chamber presented and submitted its 2019 National Budget input to the Parliament Portfolio Committee on Industry and Commerce on 25 October 2018. Issues affecting business were presented to the Portfolio Committee and these include Boarder Management Systems- where it was highlighted that the country’s ranking at 153/190 in trading across borders is a cause for concern and that smuggling has been rampant on ports of entry and this needs to be addressed. Some of the issues that were presented focused on Fiscal deficit, Corruption, Taxation, SI 122, Local Content Policy and World to Trade facilitation agreement.
ZNCC attended the Business Networking reception that was held on Wednesday 17 October 2018, following a visit by the Australia Africa Council. The reception was hosted by Australian Ambassador to Zimbabwe H. E Bronte Moules. The seminar provided an opportunity to exchange experiences and views on areas of cooperation between the two countries. ZNCC presented on Investment opportunities in Zimbabwe to the Australia Delegation
- We are where we are cause electronic dollars are more than real dollars- local dollars coming from the government
- Economy requires rightsizing
- Root cause of money supply growth is fiscal imbalances
- 8bn Government borrowing, which is more than market deposits ($9.7bn)
- Issue not about changing currency
- Strengthen multicurrency system – separate FCA accounts
- Ring fence foreign currency earners- Nostro FCA accounts and RTGS FCA accounts
- Immediate effect- new money coming in or that which was already being Ring fenced
- Expectation is not necessarily new accounts to be opened
- People must know they don’t have foreign currency
- Negotiated with Afrexim for a Nostro stabilization facility of $500m- to be in place by end of October
- Nostro foreign currency accounts pertains to free funds, exporters, portfolio investors etc
- Gold 30%, platinum and chrome 35%, tobacco 20% and others are 100%
- Banks to align systems by 15 October
- Banks pay interest on Nostro foreign currency accounts
- No more 14 day window period for use of foreign currency
- Rate parity is going to be maintained
- Facilities to support RTGS foreign currency accounts for critical commodities - adding up to almost $500m from various lenders
- External Debt Arrear clearance expected within 6 months
- Foreign currency payments – minimize externalisation
- Invoice name should match account details
- High value transactions to be done via LCs
- Export proceeds to be remitted on time
- Purchase of fuel to be done in foreign currency by all international truckers.
- Same applies to foreigners buying goods in Zimbabwe e.g. fuel and cooking oil
- Purchase of gold by jewelers from Fidelity now in foreign currency not RTGS
- Settlement of capital gains tax in foreign currency if selling property in foreign currency
- Disinvestments of investments outside Zimbabwe – the funds must be remitted back to Zimbabwe
- Introduction of Stat reserves to reduce liquidity – 5% on RTGS foreign currency account with effect from 1 November 2018 on a weekly compliance basis
- AFTRADE window remain open for those entities requiring interbank support
- Introduction of TB auction system wef 1 Nov. Currently the RBZ was not being the involved in the pricing discussions.
- Continuation of the savings bonds. End of August it was $1.5bn
- Construction facility fund to be introduced - All in interest rate of 10%
- Reminder of capitalisation levels which are due 2020
The ZNCC team recently met up with Vice President K. Mohadi and his team where the ZNCC shared with the V.P the structure of the Chamber, how it operates, composition of membership and what role ZNCC plays in the business sector. The Chamber guaranteed support to the government on the mission to turn around the economy. They also highlighted the challenges business is facing, the major ones being of forex shortages and high taxation charges. In return V.P Mohadi assured support to the ZNCC and business community and promised to act on the presented challenges with immediate effect.
As part of its business advocacy and lobbying mandates the ZNCC on the 30th of August held a meeting with ZIMRA to discuss tax and fiscal issues affecting businesses. Some of the key challenges that were highlighted are:-
- ASYCUDA is not reliable or timeous as it is always down thereby affecting the lead time of imports.
- E-filing is difficult to access sometimes and will also get congested on the due dates forcing submission of manual returns which still have to be re-submitted if you need a tax clearance.
- Taxation levels too high be it Customs Duty , PAYE , Corporate Tax that this is affecting many sectors who are closing down due to high taxes.
- Withholding VAT Certificates are taking long to come resulting in business not being able to claim withheld VAT, shipments being delayed at boarder and businesses paying demurrage charges.
- Departments/Sections should coordinate their assignments/audits to avoid asking for the same information from clients
- Quality control and standardisation of work is poor, what ZIMRA Bulawayo does is different from Harare
ZIMRA acknowledged all the raised challenges and responded by saying:-
- They have adopted a new approach i.e. to promote voluntary compliance than forcing
- ASYCUDA system has not been performing up to expectations from Dec 2017 – Jan 2018. As a result, steps has been taken to ensure such problems will not recur by upgrading and acquiring new hardware. A single window has also been introduced to eliminate the unnecessary stakeholders
- Have establish a facility for pre-clearance i.e. it can clear goods before they reach the boarder to avoid congestion and delays
- They are on a mission to tackle corruption by rotating staff members although the process comes with costs of educating certain individuals
- They have introduced an Authorised Economic Operators (AEOs) concept – a promotional facility for exporters and importers that have good records of compliance and have encouraged business to take advantage of it.
ZNCC further suggested to host a business breakfast meeting with ZIMRA, to allow the business community meet up with the new Commissioner General as well as have the essential questions answered directly by the ZIMRA personnel.
The Chamber hosted a breakfast meeting during the 2018 Agricultural show under the theme “Enterprise Development, Corporate Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Growth.”
The breakfast meeting constituted a panel discussion on the topic “The Continental Free Trade Area – Prospects for the Field to Industry value chain,” in a bid to interrogate the Agriculture opportunities for enhanced trade in the agro-processing value chain following the signing of the AfCFTA agreement by the Heads of State on 21 March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. The breakfast meeting was meant:-
- To identify key trade and development prospects for Agriculture in the CFTA
- To identify gaps in agriculture value chain linkages in order to come up with a position for input in policy formulation
From the event the major highlights were that:-
- Every day we all play a role in the industry value chains, usually at the end of the chain, as consumers. The reality being that industry value chains have become a dominant feature of world trade. They create a high level of interconnectedness and interdependency, making it very complex to steer changes in the direction we desire, towards a more sustainable world.
- Agriculture remains the backbone of this country’s economy, however, there is need to increase productivity in the sector while unlocking more downstream opportunities.
- Government and private sector need to complement each other in the Command programs to ensure value chains
- Private sector players need to read more on the Free Trade Area environment (SADC, Tripartite, COMESA and AfCFTA) in order to avoid losing out on the much needed information and become competitive as well
Finance and quality are very key elements for value chains
Opening Remarks by Pres
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to give welcome remarks and to welcome you all to this year’s edition of the ZNCC 2018 Agri-Business Breakfast Meeting.
Before I dwell much into my remarks I would like to pose a few questions to each one of you here present. Did you decide to put on clothes that are free of child labour? And while drinking your cup of coffee in the lounge just now did you think: 'I wonder if the coffee farmer at the other end of the industry value chain got a fair price for his beans.'
Every day we all play a role in the industry value chains, usually at the end of the chain, as consumers. But for most of us the link between the fair price of trade and our daily breakfast is not an obvious one. Let alone feeling responsible for it. The reality is that industry value chains have become a dominant feature of world trade. They create a high level of interconnectedness and interdependency, making it very complex to steer changes in the direction we desire, towards a more sustainable world.
This year’s Agri-Business Breakfast meeting is running under the theme “Enterprise Development, Entrepreneurship, and Sustainable Growth” given that the Chamber is on the drive to equip business with development opportunities, to help create sustainable businesses which grow and lead to job creation, in turn contributing to sustainable economic growth which is a priority to result in the provision of opportunities for local entrepreneurs (women and youth included).
Ladies and Gentlemen let me highlight that this breakfast meeting’s panel discussion topic is being held under the co-themes of ZNCC and Zimbabwe Agricultural Society (ZAS) to which the ZAS theme reads, “Field to Industry, Produce; Connect; Develop.” It is commendable to note that commercial exhibition space taken up at this whole juncture has increased by approximately 7.5% from 79 730 square metres in 2017 to 85 730 in 2018 with at least 8 countries participating at this year’s edition. This makes it one of the biggest fairs in Zimbabwe that is slowly moving from being a provincial event to national level. In following the news recently, we read that ZAS received a council approval to construct a $100 million five-star hotel and conventional center and is currently constructing a $20 million state of the art shopping mall here at the exhibition grounds. As the business community we appreciate such an initiative to boost retailing and promotion of value chains through selling of inputs and finished products.
The Chamber would like to acknowledge the efforts being made by the Government in the formulation of a new Zimbabwe National Industrialisation Policy (2018-2022) that is centered on developing and facilitating industrial linkages across all sectors of the economy. Also we would like to applaud our line ministry, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development for their key role in strengthening of this policy and all the private players who have been contributing immensely towards this policy and strengthening of value chains.
Dear colleagues, as most of you know, on 21 March 2018, 44 African Union member states signed the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in Kigali, Rwanda with the goal of creating a single market followed by free movement and a single currency union. What does this mean? This signifies a single continental legal regime for all relevant trade disciplines; including lower tariffs, simplified rules of origin and customs procedures, regulations for trade in services and remedies available to affected private parties. This is a bold vision but vital for advancing Africa’s economic development and capacity also to integrate more effectively into the 21st century global economy. In all this aspect how then does Zimbabwe benefit? Through increased Value Chains!!
Ladies and Gentlemen, agriculture remains the backbone of this country’s economy, however, there is need to increase productivity in the sector while unlocking more downstream opportunities. Having strong value chains will establish opportunities for processing, value addition and beneficiation for the local industry following a vital quantity supply of raw materials. Following the command agriculture initiatives the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe reported milling capacity to have risen from below 50% to 87% for mealie-meal and 93% for wheat last season which is what we hope to achieve in all sectors of field to industry processes.
There is need for us to continuously invest into digital technologies inorder to transform the way we produce our food, manage our land, the way we eat and consume our food and even the way we do research if we are going to strengthen our competitive advantages as a nation. We also need to invest in business digital hubs which help connect farm businesses with technology providers, scientists and those able to finance innovation. The free trade area we have entered into is a war zone, not of bullets but of commercial interests, therefore we need to equip well to avoid being the dumping zone.
During the ZNCC annual congress resolutions were made that:
- ZNCC must engage Government on the proposal for the country to host the CFTA Secretariat because this comes with incremental benefits. To this a letter was submitted to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development requesting the Ministry to assist in expediting the process of Expressions of Interest to host the Secretariat through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade; and CEO has made communications with the Zimbabwean Ambassador to Ethiopia regarding this issue. Now we hope for a positive outcome towards this initiative.
- ZNCC should host the 2020 Intra Africa Trade Fair - A meeting was held with Afrexim bank, who are the sponsors of the Intra Africa Trade Fair. The meeting discussed ZNCC’s intention to participate at the 2018 intra Africa Trade Fair to be held in Egypt and to express interest to host the 2020 Intra Africa Trade Fair.
Ladies and gentlemen, I will not be verbose and prolix since we have little time. Again welcome and let us have a great breakfast meeting.
The Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers has blamed the growth of the black market for foreign currency for fuelling the current wave of increases in prices of basic commodities. Over the past few days, prices of most consumables have been sky-rocketing, leaving consumers in a lurch. The shortage of foreign currencies in the formal banking channels is forcing most retailers and manufacturers to source from the black market at a premium in order to continue importing goods. Government should promote use domesticate raw materials building the capacity of local source suppliers like agriculture as over reliance on imports is dangerous to an economy. (Herald)
Allocate land to small miners, govt urged – SMALL-SCALE miners have called on the government to parcel out land to artisanal and small-scale miners to increase the gold output, as they produced 2,8 tonnes of gold in the first quarter. This is up from the comparative quarter in 2017 where the small-scale gold miners contributed between 1.6 and 1.9 tonnes of gold. Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation (ZMF) president Henrieta Rushwaya said government should engage conglomerates who have been holding onto land and claims to surrender them to small-scale miners. (Newsday)