ZimAsset must be practical, says Japanese envoy

HARARE - Zimbabwe's economic blueprint, ZimAsset, cannot be funded in its current form and needs to be reviewed to make it practical, Japanese ambassador Yoshi “Tendai” Hiraishi says.

In an interview with businessdaily this week, Hiraishi noted that while the document lays out government’s economic targets for the next five years, it fails to specify how they will be attained.

He said although the Japanese government has no direct scheme to support ZimAsset, they “understand the importance of the four pillars of ZimAsset — food security and nutrition, social services and poverty reduction, infrastructure and utilities and value addition and beneficiation”.

“Through individual projects under Official Development Assistance, we try to contribute to ZimAsset,” said Hiraishi.

The envoy’s comments come as a British trade delegation that recently visited  Zimbabwe also noted that it was critical to review the economic blueprint and undertake feasibility studies to assess how much and what type of funding will be required for each project under the document.

In its report titled “Zimbabwe Scoping Report October 28-31 2014” released last week, the trade mission said international technical assistance would be necessary if Zimbabwe was to realise the goals of ZimAsset.

“The ZimAsset plan provides a useful overview of the kind of major infrastructure developments that the Zimbabwean Government would like to execute, but the plan needs to be built upon and taken to a more detailed level,” read part of the report.

The delegation also noted that “the (ZimAsset) document clearly demonstrates what the Government would like to achieve but not how. UK companies can be of most assistance by providing detailed specialist support in the planning and execution of projects”.

Zimbabwe is yet to secure $27 billion needed to fund the ambitious economic blueprint, which has been described by economic experts as “a pie in the sky”, largely due to perceived policy inconsistences.

ZimAsset has a two-pronged approach, the quick fix, 2013 to 2015, and the long-term strategy dealing with the woes confronting the economy.

ZimAsset comes on the back of a cocktail of economic policies that have dismally failed to breathe life into the country’s economy in the past decade.

These range from the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (Esap) to Zimbabwe Programme for Economic and Social Transformation (Zimprest) to the abandoned Medium Term Plan that was supposed to run until next year, among others.

With the local economy only generating $3,6 billion in annual revenue, ZimAsset was anchored on the mobilisation of $27 billion, hoped to come mostly from the emerging markets, mainly Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa — known as Brics.

However, Brazil has said it would not financially support Zimbabwe’s ZimAsset projects, as the southern African nation is “too rich to beg for financial assistance”.

“As a rule, Brazil does not give any support to sovereign nations and we don’t give out hand-outs either,” the South American’s top envoy to Zimbabwe, Marcia Maro da Silva, told the Daily News early this year.

“Usually, we find synergies and business opportunities where we can work with people on various projects,” she added.

Comments (2)

ZimAsset is, and has always been, an expedient party political document written by ingratiating characters of suspect depth. It starts off by fatally making illegal sanctions a key cause of the basket economy when we know that our problems preceded any sanctions, but, as one would expect from a strategy document, omits to tell us how that cause will be addressed. Then it parades a disparate litany of obviously long-overdue programmes without weaving them into a practicable holistic symphony, critically leaving out the need for governance reform, whose decay spooked both foreign and domestic investors over the heady years of dubious nationalism, which still prevail unto now. Zimbabweans may be stupid, but investors are not.

Chanisa - 30 November 2014

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