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Zimbabwe moving at snail’s pace towards improving ease of doing business

Business Reporter

HARARE – Despite moving in the right direction, Zimbabwe is not moving fast enough on the easy of doing business. There have been slow reforms largely in financing the processes and getting support from policy makers.

The Ease of Doing Business is an assessment of a country’s overall business environment based on a set of indicators compiled by the World Bank Doing Business project.

In 2015, upon realising that the business climate in the country was not attractive to both local and foreign investors, Zimbabwe introduced the reforms, which are being spearheaded by the Office of the President and Cabinet and are targeted at identifying and removing bottlenecks, improving on procedures, reducing turnaround time for document processing and reducing the costs where possible.

In 2017, the southern African country was ranked 161 on the World Bank’s doing business rankings. Last year, the country improved its doing business standing after it gained two places to 159 out of 190 countries. However, in the last reporting period, 2019, Zimbabwe was ranked 155th.

Briefing the media in the capital, Country Coach on Ease of Doing Business Eric Zinyengere said the thematic working groups were working towards more of achieving a double-digit figure.

“The target has been each year that we improve the doing business environment and get a better ranking but it has not been that,” stated Zinyengere.

“Then we said okay, must be specifically by this year in top 100 or so on but certainly we hope that as move through the next couple of years, we would move towards being a double-digit figure rather than three-digit figure. But there is no specific target there that we must be number this the reason for that once again is because even if you say you must be number this what if everyone else reform more than you that year right, but in terms of distance to frontier if continuously improving that distance to frontier you will always be getting better.”

The distance to frontier measure shows the distance of each economy to the “frontier”, representing the best performance observed on each of the indicators across all economics in the doing business sample since 2005.

However, despite the slow progress made, Zinyengere remained optimistic that the country will improve on the ease of doing business global rankings.

“The speed has not been good as we like it to be but, the thing is you know you can complain about speed but at least you can celebrate the fact that we are moving in the right direction it is not as if we are talking that it has gone backwards we have actually moved forward so it is not as fast as we like but certainly the reforms are moving in the right direction,” he said.

He said it was quite easy to reform the initial phase, but as one moved forward with reform it required financing. The country coach told this publication there was need for significant funding to work around some of the reforms.

“Its multiple (the figure), I can’t put the figure right now and the reason I say that, is some of it is now needs to be re-cost based where we are, the economy, the pricing and things like that. So we know that its significant amount but we have been asked to put a budget together by the ministry of finance and the OPC, then they will see how that can be funded as we start the new reform stage,” he said.

Commenting on the policy inconsistence, he said, “We believe that the fact that now, the highest office in the country is concerned about the ease of doing business, those policy inconsistence should become a thing of the past and we have seen more laws enabled in a short of time than before, the Insolvency Act, The State Administrators and Deeds Registry Act. All these of things have been pending for a quite a while but in the last 2 years we have had them all passed which shows that there is drive towards the improving in doing of business in environment.”

The reforms were carried out through 5 Thematic Working Groups (TWG) namely starting a business, property registration and construction permits, protecting investors and enforcing contracts, getting credit and resolving insolvency and paying taxes and trading across borders.

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