Manufacturing sector growth prospects high, says Minister Ndlovu

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INDUSTRY and Commerce Minister Mangaliso Nqobizitha Ndlovu says Zimbabwe’s manufacturing sector has recorded some positive strides despite sluggish growth over the past three years.

Addressing captains of industry in the Midlands province after touring retail shops and manufacturing companies in Gweru on Friday, he said growth prospects for the sector were high going forward.

“The Zimbabwean manufacturing sector has exhibited sluggish growth over the past three years. When assessed in context, the growth performance is promising as there have been many factors militating against local industry such as sanctions and use of the US dollar, which has made it difficult for local industries to compete regionally,” said Minister Ndlovu.

He said a substantial part of the growth was attributed to the Government providing various forms of support to local industry, which include the import management programme (S.I. 64 of 2016 later consolidated into S.I. 122 of 2017), facilitation of rebates on imports of capital equipment and raw materials and the RBZ export incentives, which were introduced in 2016 to promote exports across all sectors.

“The use of the US dollar has been detrimental to local industry, making it less competitive relative to regional and international peers. This has resulted in the country’s trade deficit increasing. I, however, believe the recently promulgated currency reforms will go some way in ameliorating this problem. I want to implore you also to consider that foreign currency inflows received by Zimbabwe exceed those received by many of our peers on the continent such as Rwanda. Our manufacturing sector thus needs to complement our foreign currency generation capacity through greater utilisation of local raw materials and a more aggressive approach towards exports,” he said.

The Government, Minister Ndlovu said, was currently implementing the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) (October 2018 – December 2020), which crystallises the reform agenda of the Second Republic.

“TSP prioritises fiscal consolidation, economic stabilisation, stimulation of growth and creation of employment. The country aspires to realise Vision 2030 and attain the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In addition, our policies and aspirations are framed within the context of the Sadc Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap (2015-2063) and AU Agenda 2063. The Midlands province is central to the industrial development of our nation and achievement of all of the above,” he said.

Minister Ndlovu said in the Second Republic, it was necessary to deal decisively with economic structural bottlenecks adding that the 2019 budget reveals this commitment by Government.

“Several cost-cutting measures were promulgated to deal with the budget deficit and central to the policy statement is efficient and progressive revenue collection. The 2019 Monetary Policy Statement also introduced currency reforms that buttress the Government’s reform agenda. These measures will assist industry to confront challenges in procuring critical inputs (raw materials and capital equipment),” he said.

“Industrialisation is key in order for the country to realise the vision of becoming a middle-income economy by 2030. My ministry is finalising the Zimbabwe National Industrial Development Policy (ZNIDP 2019-2023). ZNIDP 2019-2023 will guide the country’s industrial growth and development over the next five years.

“It speaks to the country’s endowments, strengths, opportunities and global developments in industry and commerce that we must embrace. ZNIDP prioritises the development of value chains and also speaks to rural industry development, economic empowerment and the mainstreaming of gender issues.”

The Minister said the Midlands province was central to the industrial development of the country.

“The province is home to a number of strategic companies/ or subsectors — in the steel, ferrochrome, fertiliser, civil explosives, footwear, cement, yeast, cotton, and dairy processing industry. These sectors are key to the success of the country’s industrialisation and agrarian agenda. It is sad to note that the province hosts a number of companies that have been closed and Government is, indeed, seized with efforts to resuscitate some of these companies,” he said.–herald.co.zw

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