Industry has urged Government to come up with a comprehensive local content policy for procurers of goods and services in order to enhance local job creation that leads to sustainable economic growth.
This came out at the Buy Zimbabwe retailers and suppliers conference held last week in Harare where industrialists argued that the coming on board of SI64 as an incubation measure against the influx of foreign goods into the country was not the ultimate solution for the growth of local industry but a local content quota for all goods on the market would be more effective.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Sifelani Jabangwe said the goal for a local content is to increase the number of people employed hence create new incomes.
“New jobs create increased consumption so in this case we saw opportunities when were importing water and maheu and then we put SI 64 and we then had a slight increase in employment, so how does this benefit the various value chains? We are saying the consumers are consumers only because they have incomes, in the absence of incomes we have no consumers.
“So in order to create jobs let’s support local producers so they expand on both their production and employment figures. It’s objective is to create local enterprises then all the benefits come naturally, taxes, incomes and so forth,” he added.
Observers have, however, called on industry to invest in installed capacity and not concentrate on production up scaling alone if a local content policy can achieve its intended results of employment creation.
According to the latest CZI report, the country’s manufacturing sector capacity utilisation fell by 2,3 percent to 45,1 percent despite an increase in production.
This resulted in 15 percent loss in jobs for local industry.
“The same capacity that was there (last year) is the same that we have today. What this means is we have not invested in new capacity but we have actually had an increase in volume,” said Jabangwe.
Retailers and suppliers also said the foreign currency shortages continue to weaken momentum in the market as the foreign currency waiting lists is taking too long to settle payments for the procurement of raw materials.
Dr Gift Mugano, an economist, bemoaned Government’s deliberate stance to prioritize exporters in foreign currency allocation as affecting business on the domestic front insisting local economic players were equally economic partners.
“Prioritizing exporters is not doing good for the growth of the local economy as non-exporters constitute the bulk of the country’s GDP,” he said.