HomeBusinessIndustries yet to get govt’s $18bn rescue package

Industries yet to get govt’s $18bn rescue package

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BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

THE Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) says its members have not received their share of the government’s $18 billion rescue package meant to scale up production in response to the adverse effects of COVID-19 on the economy.

On May 1, 2020, President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced an $18 billion economic stimulus package to scale up production in all sectors affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but three months down the line, industry players say they are yet to access the funds.

Out of the amount, agriculture was allocated $6,08 billion, industry (working capital fund) $3,02 billion, mining sector ($1 billion), SME support fund ($500 million), arts sector fund ($20 million), liquidity release from statutory reserves ($2 billion), health sector support fund ($1 billion), broad relief measures ($1,50 billion) and food grant ($2,40 billion).

“There is no evidence of any one of our members having received a bailout from the government, even though they announced a provision of $3 billion for the manufacturing sector as in other countries like South Africa. This remains a serious concern for us as a chamber and I believe it is the same with other chambers as well,” CZI Matabeleland chamber president Shepherd Chawira said during the chamber’s annual general meeting.

Chawira said the outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent necessary measures taken by various governments across the globe, including Zimbabwe, had a serious impact on the economy and business. He said supply chains and movement of goods and services were severely disrupted.

“The movement restrictions resulted in companies either scaling down or shutting down completely. Businesses have been forced to adjust the way they work in an effort to keep production going in the face of COVID 19,” Chawira said.

He said compliance regulations to bolster preventive measures had resulted in increased operating costs for businesses, which were already burdened by low capacity utilisation.

“Although the measures are being eased, some things may never be the same, and, therefore, companies need to innovate and adapt new ways of doing things,” the CZI Matabeleland chamber official said.

“Of concern though, is the enforcement of lookdown rules by the authorities, which have come in the form of unannounced, abrupt and haphazard lockdown measures, where we have all woke up to road blocks all over and people being barred from going to work, even if they have permits.”

Chawira said this posed planning challenges to businesses in the chamber and everywhere, as it resulted in wasted days as we are still expected to foot the costs of salaries and wages.

“Even now, with the current working hours imposed by the government under the lockdown measures, business is still expected to pay wages and salaries in full for less work,” he said.

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