Poor response to Bulawayo fund

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Less than $2 million has been disbursed under the Distressed and Marginalised Areas Fund (Dimaf) primarily set up to resuscitate industry in Bulawayo, a Cabinet minister said yesterday.

Dimaf is a $40 million fund set up last year and disbursed through the Central Africa Building Society (CABS).

It is meant to help companies purchase equipment and raw materials to enhance output and quality of goods being produced, and to assist them in covering their operating costs.

But in his monthly state of the economy address to the media in Harare, Finance minister Tendai Biti said applications submitted to CABS were less than half of the provided $40 million.

“Following the launch of Dimaf in Bulawayo, on 10 October 2011, modalities for implementation of the facility were put in place and eligible companies were invited to submit projects to CABS,” he said.

“To date, applications submitted to CABS amount to $16,9 million, of which $12,2 million is for Bulawayo projects.

“Projects totalling $3,4 million have been approved, whilst actual disbursements amount to $1,97 million.’’
Biti, however, did not say where the other companies that had applied for the fund were based.

Last month, Industry and Trade minister Welshman Ncube said only three companies in the city had benefited from Dimaf and several had been turned down due to the stringent conditions that were set by the disbursing agent.

“Out of the 60 companies that applied to benefit from Dimaf, only three were successful as the rest could not meet the fund’s requirements,” he said.

Ncube said Cabinet had agreed to hold discussions with CABS with a view to relaxing some of the fund’s rules and regulations in order for more companies to benefit.

The fund was launched in October by Biti following a recommendation by the task force on the Let Bulawayo Survive Campaign chaired by Ncube.

However, it has failed to take off and has been mired in controversy amid squabbling in the inclusive government with some saying it was not meant for Bulawayo companies alone.

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