The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
THE Second Republic has been applauded for creating a conducive environment that has resulted in the ease of doing business thereby transforming Bulawayo industries.
The improved support from the Government under the Second Republic is having a transformative impact on Bulawayo industries, which continue to register positive strides despite macro-economic challenges facing the country.
Despite facing disruptions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the city continues to register strong business recovery momentum, while several local companies witness improved capacity utilisation and growth in their exports.
Riding on the on-going ease of doing business reforms, fiscal support incentives and enhanced access to foreign currency through the Forex Auction System, the Government has pledged that, going forward, more attention will be given to assisting ailing firms and resuscitating some of the closed operations.
In an interview yesterday, Bulawayo-based exotic tanning specialists, Zambezi Tanners general manager, Mr Arnold Britten said processes have become streamlined. The company is, according to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, among the 13 formerly distressed firms that have received various forms of support to aid their revival.
“We mainly export our products and we have witnessed that processes have become more streamlined in Government. Processes that used to take maybe 20 to 24 days are now taking 10 to 12 days and the process of exporting has become much easier. All the Government departments are now active in trying to support the export of products and that has greatly improved in the last two to three years,” said Mr Britten.
He said when they were importing machinery, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce assisted them to get a rebate which saw them saving up on their funds.
Mr Britten said they also managed to access foreign currency from the auction system for the retooling of their plant. He said they were in the process of installing the machinery which will see their capacity utilisation going up.
“We are in the process of installing the machinery as we ordered about 12 containers, while the last one arrived two months ago. We are currently at 40 percent capacity utilisation and once the machinery is up and running we should go to about 60 to 65 percent.”
Mr Britten said the machinery was acquired at the tune of US$600 000, while they managed to acquire funding from some financial institutions. He said they were appreciative of the move taken by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to review the retention for exporters to 75 percent from 60 percent.
Mr Britten added: “There are loans offered by the Government for the leather sector at the tune of US$5 million, industry still trying to find a way to access those funds.”
Employing 96 people up from 45, he said their business focus was on processing crocodile and game hides for export, while with the retooling project they will be expanding to processing cow hides for furniture and footwear.
“We are looking at import substitution by providing local manufacturers with the ability to access raw materials locally. We are hoping that this will help stimulate the value chain in Zimbabwe in the leather sector.”
Mr Britten said they were working with other local companies towards the resuscitation of the leather industry which has over the years suffered quite significantly.
The increased Government support and private sector partnerships have stimulated renewed industrial investments in the last few years, mainly in the manufacturing sector where increased focus is on value addition and beneficiation.