The newly created One-Stop Investment Services Centre (OSISC) processed investment proposals worth $5,6 billion in the past seven months as the allure of the pro-business environment created by the new political administration continues to find takers.
OSISC is a forerunner to the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA), which will be born out of the ZIDA Bill.
Government intends to restructure and streamline the country’s investment laws in order to improve the business environment.
ZIDA will be similarly modelled as the Rwanda Development Board, which has demonstrably proved its effectiveness in satisfactorily processing investments in the East African country.
Interim chair of the ZIDA steering taskforce Dr Washington Mbizvo told a recent CEO Africa Roundtable in Victoria Falls that Government’s push to simplify investment processes is beginning to pay off.
“From 1 August 2018 when it started operating to 12 February 2019, OSISC has processed and recommended projects for approval. Based on the OSISC recommendations, His Excellency, the President, has to date approved 18 projects worth more than $5,6 billion.
“The projects are in various sectors of the economy, including manufacturing, energy, infrastructure development, finance, mining and agriculture,” said Dr Mbizvo.
The ZIDA Bill is now before Parliament.
Government plans to push for the expeditious enactment of the new law, which will be crafted to deal with overlapping legal instruments, bureaucratic red tape and high fees for permits and licences.
Dr Mbizvo added: “These are being addressed and streamlined through measures such as OSISC’s recommended reduction of the Environmental Management Agency fees. ZIA had not succeeded in surmounting these challenges because there were different pieces of legislation governing investments and these were administered by separate agencies. Furthermore, ZIA reported to a line ministry. However, with the coming of ZIDA, there will be one piece of legislation, the ZIDA Act, administered by one agency, ZIDA itself.”
The repeal of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, he added, will ensure that domestic and foreign investors are treated equitably and fairly.
Investors now have the option of wholly owning their business ventures.
Further, the new legal framework will guarantee investor protection and the ease with which foreign businesses can repatriate their profits.
Through the envisaged new law, applications for investment licences will now be processed within five days.
Licensing arms of agencies such as the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority; Environment Management Agency; Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe; Companies Office; National Social Security Agency; Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority; Zimbabwe Tourism Authority; State Enterprises Restructuring Agency and some Government departments will be integrated under ZIDA.
The proposed Bill also reserves 12 sectors – transportation, retail and wholesale trade; barbershops and beauty salons; employment agencies; valet services; bakeries; grain milling; tobacco grading; advertising agencies; artisanal mining; and local art marketing and distribution, among others – for locals.
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