The government says it is fully committed to the implementation of the ease of doing business reforms as the country comes up with long term measures to turn around the economy.

This was said by Vice President Emmerson Munangagwa while officially opening the 2017 Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) International Business Conference in Bulawayo this morning.

Cde Mnangagwa highlighted that government policies such as the Statutory Instrument 64 (SI64) of 2016, Special Economic Zones Act have offered local companies and industries an opportunity to manufacture products that were previously imported.

“SI64 offers local companies an opportunity to produce more, and I am happy that since its introduction, our import bill has been coming down from US$6,3 billion in 2015 to US$5 billion in 2016, while capacity utilisation increased from 34,3 percent in 2015 to 37,4 percent in 2016, as a result of the positive response by local industry to this government measure,” said VP Mnangagwa.

On the Special Economic Zones policy, Cde Mnangagwa said the government has created a platform for joint venture projects between local, regional and international companies.

“Through the Special Economic Zones Bill which President Mugabe signed last year, the local economy will be stimulated and the law will facilitate linkages and innovation in the manufacturing sector,” said Cde Mnangagwa, adding that the National Competitive Commission Bill has already passed through parliament and will soon be tabled before senate.

“The idea is to improve the country’s competitiveness. This industrialisation interventions are in line with ZIMASSET, the SADC industrialisation and the AU industrialisation agenda,” he added.

Vice President Mnangagwa also hailed the Presidential Input Scheme and the Command Agriculture Programme for a successful 2016-17 farming season.

“Looking forward, the government is committed to ensure that farmers are paid in time for delivered grain to the GMB so that they will be able to go back into their farms for the winter season. The government has so far secured funds for 1,3 million metric tonnes of grain deliveries to the Grain Marketing board,” he said.

Cde Mnangagwa also reiterated the need for the country to prioritise irrigation to ensure food self sufficiency.

“We need 400 000ha of irrigated land to be able to produce food which is enough for the country. Currently, we have around 159 000 – 160 000 ha  under irrigation. We also intend to extend the command programme to livestock, soya beans and wheat production through exploiting ground water sources. A command fisheries programme will also be launched in May,” he said.

On the mining sector, Vice President Mnangagwa quoted President Robert Mugabe’s independence speech in 1980 that: “Mining needs to play an important part in the development of the country,” adding that US$100 million has been put aside to finance mining initiatives.

He then confirmed that President Mugabe will in May break the ground for the dualisation programme of the Beitbridge – Masvingo highway.