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Dimaf: Govt not serious

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Reports that the government has not yet released its $20 million contribution to the $40 million Distressed and Marginalised Areas Fund (Dimaf) rescue package for struggling companies five months after Finance minister Tendai Biti launched the programme made sad reading.

Last year, Cabinet approved the setting up of Dimaf where government was expected to contribute $20 million while Old Mutual contributed an equal amount for disbursement by CABS.

Hundreds of firms had pinned their revival hopes on the disbursements of the fund. Last week, Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono urged the Bulawayo business community to protest over the delays in disbursement of the fund.

It seems even protesting at this level will not be helpful as the funds are still not available.

All along we thought government had its house in order. Old Mutual must, however, be commended for demonstrating its commitment towards the revival of ailing sectors of the economy.

It is disappointing to note that the government has on several occasions championed public/private partnerships yet it is not playing ball itself. It is about time they walk the talk.

This development does not augur well for future co-operation with the private sector as they will have every reason to believe they will be used for political grandstanding.

The inclusive government must put its house in order and should stop rushing to the Press to make pronouncements when it has not finalised its policies. Ministers should be quick to action and slow to speech.

Industry and Commerce secretary Abigail Shonhiwa told Parliament on Tuesday most companies that needed the funds failed to meet the requirements by CABS, who are administrators of the fund.

Some of the requirements entail the provision of collateral, audited accounts for the past two years and interest rates in the region of 15% annually.

While we agree there is every reason for any banking institution to safeguard its funds by making certain demands, these should not scuttle the same efforts of trying to revive the industry.

Of what benefit is it to have a fund that no one is able to access?

It is disturbing to note that despite the urgent need for funds by these firms, only one Bulawayo firm is said to have benefited from the fund.

At least 60 companies are said to have sent an SOS to government but it seems all this has come to naught.

It is about time the government demonstrates its sincerity. These are matters of life and death in the economy where cheap talk and political posturing will not cut it!

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