By Golden Sibanda
President Mnangagwa has reassured the nation that the United States dollar will remain the bedrock of Government plans for accelerated reforms to address the multiplicity of challenges besetting the economy, chief among them cash and foreign currency shortages, as his administration moves to stabilise the economy.
Officially opening the First Session of the Ninth Parliament of Zimbabwe in Harare yesterday, following his election victory on July 30 this year, President Mnangagwa said the Government will double current efforts towards stabilising the volatile macro-economic environment.
This, the President said, will be done through measures to enhance foreign currency availability, improve liquidity, enhance Zimbabwe’s investment attractiveness, instituting currency reforms, reducing National Budget deficit and ensuring gradual growth of all sectors of the economy.
The ultimate goal, President Mnangagwa said, was to restore macro-economic order, create jobs, end corruption, improve social service delivery, provide requisite modern and efficient infrastructure, clean water, sanitation, good education, health care and sustainable environmental practices.
In what should further calm markets on fears over plans about currency reforms, the President said the US dollar will anchor the economic reform process and that Government had already secured foreign lines of credit to ease foreign currency shortages, as it continues with the process of building a solid economic foundation and conditions to support future re-introduction of local currency.
“The economic fundamentals that need to be met are sustainable fiscal position, foreign currency reserves of between three to six months import cover and sustainable consumer and business confidence. These economic fundamentals are yet to be met in order to justify the introduction of our own currency,” the President said.
President Mnangagwa said Government, through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, had successfully negotiated foreign lines of credit amounting to half a billion United States dollars to meet the growing demand for foreign currency by businesses and the public, adding that some of the funding will be disbursed this week.
The President said the foreign funding facilities will also seek to address growing demand that continues to be sustained by gaping fiscal imbalances, which the New Dispensation has made unwavering commitment to resolve.
“Furthermore, my Government will, with renewed urgency and vigour, continue to drive a high performance culture within all public entities. All public servants are henceforth required to change their work ethics to ensure efficient and prudent use of public resources, responsiveness, accountability as well as timely, impartial and equitable delivery of goods and services to our people.
In the same vein, the President said State enterprises had an obligation to operate profitably and should not continue to be a burden to the fiscus.
“We will therefore be implementing the Cabinet decision to streamline some of our public entities to bring about greater focus, coherence, efficiency, effectiveness, and easy and (lower) cost of doing business and better service delivery.”
President Mnangagwa said creation of a more competitive and business friendly economic environment must be given greater priority by all relevant institutions.
“We will not pay lip-service to this matter; (economic) reforms must be real,” he said.
On the other hand, the President implored businesses to be honest, ethical and honourable in their business dealings. He said agriculture remained a key sector of the domestic economy in the resuscitation and growth of the economy.
Going forward, the restructured Ministry of Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement will have an accelerated, more co-ordinated and composite approach to the modernisation and mechanisation of “our agriculture sector”, President Mnangagwa asserted.
Further, the President said Government will put emphasis on production of maize, wheat and cotton and that in line with Zimbabwe’s industrialisation agenda, revival and development of vibrant agro-industrial firms along value chains such as cereals, fruits and vegetables, cotton, meat and dairy products will be prioritised.
He said attention will be given to resolving foreign currency challenges in the manufacturing sector through increased disbursements while efforts will be increased on driving value addition and beneficiation to penetrate regional, continental and global value chains and markets.
The President said mining remained a key component of Zimbabwe’s economic recovery programme and the production performance of gold, platinum and chrome sub-sectors was encouraging. As such, he said Government will facilitate further revival of the sector and broaden the range of minerals the country can exploit.