Please, revive our economy

EDITOR — The start of the new year should be punctuated by new beginnings and growth, be it on our farms, the economy and on the home front.

Children embarking on new journeys either at kindergarten, Grade 1, Form 1 or preparing to go to college, everyone must be ready always.

Sadly, this does not appear to be the case this year.

I will focus my concerns to industry:

We woke up recently on the news that Reckitt Benckiser had closed their manufacturing plant in Zimbabwe and they retrenching the remaining employees.

They are also going to be offering the local market their products manufactured in South Africa.

Since 2008 most of the products manufactured by Reckitt Benckiser were imported and this is an indication that the company stopped manufacturing more than five years ago and have just been distributing imported products for the past five years.

A cursory check in any of our supermarkets will confirm this fact. Harpic toilet cleaner, Nugget shoe polish, Dettol, Airwick air freshener, Cobra floor polish and Disprin, are products which were manufactured locally by Reckitt Benckiser but are now being imported from South Africa.

This has resulted in increased import bills, increased unemployment levels and a net reduction in taxable income.

We have a ministry of Industry and Commerce whose mandate among other issues is facilitating the resuscitation of closed and ailing companies, coordinating industrial and commercial sector activities and creating a conducive environment for industrial and commercial growth.

The above objectives are quite clear and should not be difficult to implement.

What challenges is the ministry facing in ensuring that it meets its mandate?

Has the ministry carried out the required surveys to find out what challenges the local entity of the multinational company was facing that necessitated closure?

The market for Reckitt Benckiser’s products in Zimbabwe is huge considering that almost every supermarket in Zimbabwe stocks their products.

If the decision was based on the local business environment then we need to focus on those issues in our economy that are affecting business viability and resolve them to ensure that we start registering business growth rather than closures.

The ministry of Industry and Commerce has got a lot work to do, to reverse the decline in our economy. The good part is that the ministry is not alone in this fight.

The European Union is funding a $4,1 million grant feasibility study targeted at facilitating revival of its iron and steel industry.

Vincent

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