Home » General » ’ZIA Another Stop Centre’

THE envisaged Zimbabwe Investment Authority’s one-stop-shop centre remains largely a pipe dream and inconsequential tool for catalysing investment into the economy due to the absence of a legal framework to give it power to fast track investment approvals.

This is despite the fact that Zimbabwe desperately needs fresh investment to unlock its growth potential set back by close to 10 years of hyperinflation and economic meltdown,

While ZIA has been in operation as a one-stop-shop investment centre for the past two to three years, it has never been as effective as envisaged as the authority does not have the legal clout to compel officers to meet agreed time lines.

A highly placed source said officers from the various regulatory institutions with a bearing on investment still take all paperwork for approval at their head offices, making ZIA just “another stop” in the investment approval process.

“It does not have the powers to make decisions, the officers refer the issues to their respective headquarters the concept of one stop shop is not as was envisaged.

“Maybe the process (to set up a one-stop-shop centre) has to start afresh because when it was mooted under the inclusive Government, they did not put in place the process to legalise it (expedited investment approval,” the source said.

The source said indications from Government were that the process was underway to address the legal short comings to an efficient and short investment approval process, but this has taken long for a country so in need of FDI.

When setting up the one-stop-shop centre, ZIA was trying to emulate countries such as Mauritius and Rwanda, the top ranked nations in Africa, in terms of ensuring shortest possible periods of processing investment applications.

It is believed that this would enable the country to wrest away foreign investment running in billions of dollars annually going to other regional economies instead of coming to Zimbabwe, which draws just about half a billion dollars.

The source said when the one-stop- shop-centre was launched a few years ago, because of the absence of enabling legislation for enforcement, the concept was adopted on the basis of a gentleman’s or moral suasion agreement.

The ZIA one-stop-shop centre was one of many reforms that Government was looking at to improve the local business environment in order to attract investment.

Other reforms include the review of the indigenisation compliance evaluation, now undertaken by line ministries instead of the centralised system under the Ministry of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment.

Government is also working on addressing competitiveness issues by looking at addressing and eliminating key cost drivers of doing business, reforming the doing business environment and setting up special economic zones.

It is not under dispute that Zimbabwe, one of the most diversified economies in southern Africa with an abundance of natural resources and other investment opportunities, wields unequalled potential all things being equal.

But it first has to address the soft issues of attractive investment climate encompassing a litany of regulations, laws, policies, bureaucracy and business costs that scare investors at a time the country needs them the most.

Source : The Herald

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