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Boost for Zim investment climate

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Three missions from a World Bank-administered trust fund are in the country to help Zimbabwe improve its business environment climate, support reform of State-owned enterprises and efforts to strengthen the poverty and equity focus of public spending.

BY NDAMU SANDU

This is a major boost for Zimbabwe, which has been trying to create an enabling environment to attract foreign capital.

The trust fund, the Zimbabwe Reconstruction Fund (Zimref), was approved by the World Bank’s board of executive directors in 2014, and seeks to contribute to the strengthening of Zimbabwe’s systems for reconstruction and development, with a focus on stabilisation and reform, development and poverty alleviation.

It runs up to 2019.

The missions began their work on Monday and are focusing on Business Environment, Financial Sector and Investment Policy (BEFSIP) technical assistance, capital budget technical assistance and the poverty monitoring and evaluation technical assistance.

The BEFSIP mission ends tomorrow.

Zimref communications officer, Cheryl Khuphe said the mission is led by Simon Bell, the World Bank’s global lead on SME finance, and would provide technical assistance support to strengthen access to credit by SMEs.

“The team will meet with the thematic working group on SME finance and development, relevant government ministries, banks, micro credit institutions, private sector and associations; and business development service providers,” she said.

BEFSIP is a World Bank-executed technical assistance programme, which aims to improve the business climate for the private sector, particularly for microenterprises, SMEs and agricultural small holders by reducing the time and cost of doing business and introduce more effective and predictable investment and commercial policies.

The programme also seeks to strengthen the regulatory framework and financial infrastructure for expanded access to financial services and markets for micro small-to-medium enterprises.

Khuphe said the capital budget technical assistance would support the Public Sector Investment Programme team to finalise and submit draft guidelines for public investment management and to plan for the training on implementation of these guidelines once approved.

The mission would also provide further support to drafting of the Public Enterprise Corporate Governance Bill and associated implementing regulations and manuals, she said.

The mission is led by senior government specialist, Gael Raballand.

The capital budget technical assistance is a $4,3 million World Bank-executed programme aimed at developing modern public investment planning, management and resource mobilisation systems, improve State-owned enterprise governance and support development of a pipeline of feasible projects in transport and energy.

The programme would help to develop guidelines and manuals for the full public investment management cycle, train line ministry staff and support the reform of state-owned enterprises and parastatals.

This will range from a baseline stock-take, through reviews of corporate governance compliance with new national codes, and of the exercise of government’s ownership function, to advise on strategic options for both specific enterprises and the portfolio as a whole, Khuphe said.

She said a separate mission for the transport pillar would be running concurrently with capital budget technical assistance.

The transport pillar is led by senior transport specialist, Justin Runji and provides technical support to develop strategies to improve public sector performance across the four transportation modes, Khuphe said.

“The purpose of this mission is to kick-start the implementation activities that are supported by Zimref: tolling policy, road network, civil aviation administration and management,” she said.

The mission started running on Monday and will end on January 27.

The Poverty Monitoring and Evaluation technical assistance mission is led by senior poverty economist, Rob Swinkles and will meet the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency.

The programme finances Poverty, Income, Consumption and Expenditure Survey.

The mission also started running on Monday and will end on January 27.

Zimref has received pledges and financial commitments of $40,4 million from the European Union, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the World Bank’s State and Peace Building Fund.

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