business infrastructure 12.10.10.jpgIn a bid to revive local industry and the economy at large, government in partnership with local banks and the African Export and Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK) launched a $100 million facility.

However, over a year later, the money is yet to be disbursed leading many to question the sincerity of the partners to revive the Zimbabwean economy.

The Zimbabwe Economic and Trade Revival Facility (ZETREF) was launched by Afreximbank working with government and local banks in October 2010, with captains of industry and commerce upbeat of a restoration in industrial productivity.

But with official data from Afreximbank showing that $17,8 million has been disbursed so far from the $62 million allocated to 11 participating banks in June last year, it has however emerged that tight lending conditions are making it difficult for companies to access loans.

While the Bank has set requirements for the loan facility both the Ministry of Finance and banks have also imposed tight conditions further raising questions on the commitment of the parties to the revival of local industry.

Most local companies which require long term loans at cheap rates have already lost confidence in the facility.

The low uptake of ZETREF funds is testimony to this.

An investment analyst Mr. Herbert Mazonde says stakeholders involved should restrategise on modalities towards facilitating affordable lending conditions.

But taking into consideration the serious capital problems affecting the economy, those in industry are beginning to doubt the ministry of finance’s capability to mobilise funds for key productive sectors at concessionary rates.

An Industrialist, Mr. Bright Chisvo believes treasury should play an important role by providing cover on credit lines from external banks such as ZETREF to facilitate cheap lending conditions.

As the participating banks have failed to increase uptake of the facility, concern has also been raised over the financial sector’s commitment to lend for productivity at the expense of consumption.

Bankers Association of Zimbabwe President, Mr. John Mushayavanhu says while financial institutions are willing to lend, the delays are due to the tight upfront payment fees for accessing the facility from the fiscal authorities.

“We are willing to do our part but we have to follow the relevant procedures,” Mushayavanhu pointed out.

The failure by ZETREF to become an important scheme towards solving capital problems affecting companies has raised more questions than answers.

Why did the Ministry of Finance accept a facility with such impossible conditions?

Why can’t the three parties Afreximbak, treasury and local banks relax conditions?

Who is supposed to take a leading role in ensuring that that local industry is revived?

Can a crucial decision be left in the hands of banks whose primary objective is to make profits?