Zim economy starts moving up

“A lot is happening behind the scenes and much progress has been achieved,” he said adding: “We should understand that things do not happen just overnight. The new plan is action-oriented and results-based. We need action every day, every week or every month.” Dr Undenge was address-ing industrialists who attended a luncheon hosted by the Mashonaland Confederation Industries (MCI) yesterday. “The NEDPP is a short-term approach to stabilise the economy and medium and long-term approaches would be pursued in future,” he said. “But we can only succeed if everyone supports the new plan and plays their part.” His sentiments were in response to concerns raised by industrialists as to whether the new economic revival package was achiev-able. Industrialists were also keen to know what progress had been made since its implementation last month. “We want to know what these committees are doing and what action is being taken,” said one industrialist adding: “We are still in the dark.” “I know you are very anx-ious like everyone else about what has been achieved but you will soon hear more,” the deputy minister responded. Dr Undenge also put to rest reports that the tar-geted US$2,5 billion was “not real-istic”, saying inflows in form of investment or cash were already coming in. He gave an example man-agement contract signed between Ziscosteel and an Indian firm Global Steel Holdings Limited in February. The latter is expected to inject US$400 million in Zisco and rehabilitate the company’s blast furnaces. This also confirms that the new plan was imple-mented long before its offi-cial launch. Furthermore, Dr Undenge said, the committee on agri-culture co-ordination, input supply and food security had come up with the $31 million maize producer price announced last month. ‘ The Herald. The deputy minister assured industrialists that considerable progress had been made in removing price distortions in the fuel and other markets. “We agree with you that the pricing regime is not serving the intended pur-pose but in the area of agri-culture we will continue sub-sidising our farmers as a supporting measure.” Turning to the question of attracting investment, Dr Undenge said it was impera-tive that investor confi-dence be restored but emphasised the need for locals to be on the forefront in exploiting their resources. “We should shift from being workers to become investors. The proposed 50-50 percent mine owner-ship (although it is still being looked into) does not mean we are scaring away investors but we want mean-ingful participation just like other countries did,” he said in apparent reference to Japan, South Korea and other Asian countries which had a fair share of foreign invest-ment in their economies. President of MCI Mr Chester Mhende raised his voice on inflation which he said was largely caused by printing money. “It appears that inflation in Zimbabwe is caused by high consumption at the expense of production which is largely financed by print-ing more money,” said Mr Mhende. “We therefore hope that the Government will take heed of this concern so that the printing of money is done in line with standards in other countries where money supply should grow at rate of 20 percent if not less.” Also raising the similar concerns were industrialists who felt that the recent 300 percent salary incre-ments to civil servants would hamper efforts to bring down infla-tion. Mr Mhende said indus-try was committed to work with the Government in imple-menting the new eco-nomic blueprint.

May 2006
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