Big names sign up for The Big Debate

Tendai Biti


EX-FINANCE minister Tendai Biti will next week join leading economists and business leaders in a key discussion that will digest economic prospects for 2021.
Titled Zimbabwe 2021 Economic Prospects, the event that takes place on January 20, will be part of The Big Debate Series hosted by Alpha Media Holdings online.

Banker Nigel Chanakira and Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe chief executive Gloria Zvaravanhu will be part of the panel.
Economists Eddie Cross and Kipson Gundani have also been invited.

The Zoom meeting comes at a time the economy is facing bleak prospects for 2021, which have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But even prior to the health crisis, Zimbabwe already faced several constraints, including foreign currency shortages, a depreciating currency, rocketing inflation and capital shortage.

Industries had also been affected by tough foreign currency surrender requirements set by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

There were reviews to the policies this week, which are also expected to come under the spotlight during The Big Debate.

Yesterday, the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) applauded the central bank for taking steps to address industry’s concerns.

“The RBZ resolutions seek to strengthen the foreign currency auction system, which was given credit for stabilising the economy through price discovery,” said ZNCC president, Tinashe Manzungu.

“The scrapping of the much-loathed compulsory requirement to liquidate unutilised export proceeds was the fairest thing as it was a detriment to the ease of doing business, which is a big goal in the implementation of the National Development Strategy 1. But the increase of the export surrender requirement from 30% to 40% will somehow disincentivise incremental exports. But yes we have to look on the other side where the bank of last resort is trying to boost the auction system,” he said.

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube projects the economy to grow by 7,4% this year, driven by strong recovery in agriculture, mining, electricity, construction, transport and communication as well as finance and insurance.

However, power outages have worsened over the past few weeks.

Although the country is enjoying good rains, the performance of agriculture has been largely hampered by poor preparations as access to inputs was limited.

Delays in payment for the winter wheat crop affected farmers’ capacity to prepare for the summer crop.

There has also been a significant slide in the number of farmers who planted tobacco this season.

Follow Taurai on Twitter @mangudhla7BY TAURAI MANGUDHLA