Government, business and industry were yesterday counting the costs of Wednesday’s shutdown, which brought everything to a standstill, with estimates putting losses in millions for the struggling economy.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
On Wednesday, business came to a standstill after a stayaway called for by cleric, Evan Mawarire, of #ThisFlag movement with support from #Tajamuka/Sesijikile and Occupy Africa Unity Square against the deteriorating economic environment and corruption.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president Davison Norupiri told NewsDay yesterday that the stayaway affected the whole value chain and, hence, government would lose out.
“It is difficult to tell how much revenue was lost because each and every business has got its own sales. Businesses did lose revenue, which is what is imminent. If you are actually producing, it means you have failed to produce on that particular day. So at the end of the day, business, government and vendors lost out,” he said.
“Government was also affected, is it not true that they collect taxes every day? If I do not sell, what it means is that I do not pay tax, so everyone in the value chain has lost.”
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Busisa Moyo said the stayaway had a “fairly significant” effect on revenue in the manufacturing sector.
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“But we are more concerned about the impact on employees and issues of job security since most companies are marginal. This may lead to further unviability and closures, which again impacts negatively on the country, its potential and programmes,” he said.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Denford Mutashu said retailers “took a knock because of the stayaway which threatens economic gains”.
Retailers could not get the sales needed in this environment, where consumer spending has been low.
Those retailers that chose to open did not record brisk business as potential shoppers were on stayaway.
Industry and Commerce minister Mike Bimha agreed that a stayaway does affect the whole value chain within the economy.
“When companies close, it is more of production time and that is value. Any distortion to that has an effect, not only to that particular industry, but the entire economy because it means at that time, you are sleeping and not producing. We look at it, not in terms of individual companies, but in terms of the economy. No economy would like disruptions,” he said.
Sources say government is working on a strategy to engage more with the private sector following the “worrisome” stayaway.
Estimates showed that government could have lost over $1 million in value-added tax (VAT) alone since over 80% of business was closed.
Using last year’s comparative statistics, VAT accounted for $141,51m of the $884,46m that was collected by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority in the third quarter of 2015.
This meant on average, about $1,5 million in VAT was generated per day.
Analysts say that government cannot afford to lose any money at a time when Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa says Treasury coffers are dry.