Economy cannot be built by politicians: Bimha

Government is awaiting the input of all the relevant stakeholders in the economic sector to ensure the revival of the country’s economic performance, says the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mike Bimha.

Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mike Bimha.
Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mike Bimha.

“The economy cannot be built by politicians – but by all of us,” Bimha told retailers and manufactures at a meeting organised by Buy Zimbabwe in Harare last week. “Our doors are open because we thrive on the contribution of your expertise as business people on how to take the country’s economic performance forward. Government thrives on the wise counsel of business people and economists’ – although political leaders are at the helm of power.

“We have been put in positions to lead but let us hear your voices on what government should do and how to make business thrive,” said Bimha.

He said the country was spending over $3,9 billion on food imports, the majority of which the country had the capacity to produce. “The import deficit has increased by 26 percent over the past few months, an indication of the negative trends of our economic performance,” he said.

The Zimbabwe Statistical Agency reported that the country’s trade deficit ballooned to over $3 billion in the eight months to August 2013 following the importation of goods worth $5,137 billion against $2,11 billion exports during the same period last year.

Local industrialist Muvirimi Kupara, who is the Chief Operations Officer for Anchor Yeast, revealed that the country was exporting 68 – 72 cents for every dollar made by industrialists.

“The economic reality is that we are exporting jobs, tax, social services including infrastructural development to neighbouring South Africa,” he said. “The past 12 months have been catastrophic for Zimbabwe because the country has doubled its imports. Citizens have stopped believing in locally made products. We need to change the people’s mind sets towards appreciating locally made products.”

Albert Katsande, the Chief Operations Officer for OK Zimbabwe, called on local manufacturers to specialise in particular products to ensure that they were consistent in producing quality products.

“We are forced to import because of lack of products available locally. But importing is expensive and it is time consuming,” he said.

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