Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporter
THE Government has started assessing applications from investors interested in operating in the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) as part of measures to accelerate economic growth, Deputy Chief Secretary to the President Dr Ray Ndhlukula said yesterday.
Addressing delegates on progress made in the ease of doing business reforms during the International Business Conference held at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo Dr Ndhlukula said the model was being implemented under the legal and institutional framework of the SEZs Authority.
“We are in the process of adjudicating applications for SEZs status in line with Zim-Asset requirements. For one to be considered for SEZs status, a laid down criteria has been incorporated in the Act for potential investors,” said Dr Ndhlukula.
“Approval for SEZs investment license applications will consider the extent to which the proposed investments will lead to the creation of employment opportunities and the development of human resources and the degree of export orientation or import substitution of the project.”
He clarified that the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act would not apply to licensed investors operating in SEZs.
“Investors can own up to 100 percent of the investments as long as they create employment for locals and promote transfer of technology, managerial skills and other skills. The investors should also prove that they’re able to promote industrialisation of the domestic economy.
“Before we issue out the licenses, we also look at the extent to which the proposed investment will establish linkages within the domestic economy and promote value addition and beneficiation of local materials,” said Dr Ndhlukula.
“There will be automatic work permits for expatriates for investment above $50 million with dedicated power and water supply. We have also come up with a one stop shop investment services for all SEZs. Environmental impact assessments will take less than 30 days.”
The model also provides benefits such as zero-rated corporate income tax for the first five years of operation with a corporate tax rate of 15 percent as well as duty free importation of capital equipment among other benefits.
Zimbabwe is rolling out the ease of doing business reforms aimed at jump starting majororganisational change efforts and enhancing investment growth.
To that end, Dr Ndhlukula told delegates at the conference that a lot has been achieved both on the legislative and administrative front with 12 pieces of legislation have been reviewed.