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Cabinet to enhance competitiveness in economy

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CABINET has adopted a raft of measures to enhance competitiveness of the Zimbabwean economy, among them rebranding the National Pricing and Monitoring Commission (NIPC), Industry and Commerce minister Mike Bimha has said.

TARISAI MANDIZHA

The NIPC will be responsible for reviewing all new government business regulations and repealing archaic and restrictive regulations that currently make it a huge burden to do business.

Speaking at the Mandel/GIBS 2015 economic outlook symposium, Bimha said Cabinet had agreed to convert the inter-ministerial committee on the NIPC to a standing committee to deal with price and cost drivers.

He said his ministry would chair the new standing committee while the process of rebranding NIPC was expected to be completed within six months.

“Government has always been concerned by the lack of competitiveness in our industry, agriculture and services sectors and that in order for the country to regain its competitiveness regionally and globally, action needed to be taken,” Bimha said.

“Apart from water and Information Technology, the nation is very uncompetitive in the cost of capital, labour, transport and logistics, to mention a few factors examined which will have an impact on all other factors of production in the proportion that each activity uses each factor.”

He said Cabinet has approved labour law reforms to enhance efficiency and productivity in the economy.

“Cabinet also emphasised the need to undertake a reform exercise which includes adjustment downwards of the parastatals and local authorities’ wages and salaries as currently wage and salary levels are not only costly to ordinary citizens, but also to companies through levying high rates, fees and other charges to sustain the high wage bill,” Bimha said.

On power, he said Cabinet adopted recommendations on the need to lower electricity tariffs for industrial production and licensing of independent power producers.

Bimha said Cabinet agreed that in order to enjoy economies of scale, water treatment chemicals should be bought in bulk by a single national authority on behalf of all local authorities. He said the fixed water charges by local authorities should be reviewed downwards in line with levels charged in regional countries.

Bimha also said Cabinet has called for sterner measures to be taken against entities that discharge effluent into the water bodies and that rehabilitation of infrastructure for treatment of effluent be prioritised and that proliferation of private water vendors in Harare and other major cities should be regulated.

He said on the financial sector, the perceived country risk was found to be a major cost driver of interest rates and hence needed to be addressed.

“Cabinet agreed with the recommendation to set up a credit rating bureau as this will be of benefit to all financial institutions and that urgent measures were needed to plug the currency leakages,” said the Industry minister.

On transport and trade logistics cost, he said Cabinet has directed that the rehabilitation of the National Railways of Zimbabwe’s infrastructure be prioritised to ensure efficient and effective operations of the network which will in turn lower service delivery costs as compared to the road transport costs.

He also said Cabinet agreed to the recommendation that traffic enforcement agents should reduce the numerous roadblocks they mount on the roads along major routes as they have become a nations non-tariff barrier and hence the high costs and delays in transporting goods.

On environmental management charges, government agreed that EMA standards and its levies should be reviewed in line with regional practice and be cognisant with the country’s level of development and desire to promote investment

In January the telecommunication service providers were forced to review downwards their charges following a directive by government

Bimha said Cabinet instructed the Competition and Tariff Commission to investigate the cost of transferring money.

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