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Zimbabwe Investment Authority chairman, Nigel Chanakira.

THE Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) is concerned with the country’s poor ranking on the World Bank’s Doing Business Index, and is now working to improve the country’s rating to court investment.

ZIA chairman, Nigel Chanakira, said during a breakfast meeting in Bulawayo: “We currently do not have a very good ranking but you know if you are close to the bottom it is easy to move up.”

The World Bank’s 2015 report ranks Zimbabwe at 171 out of 189 countries, making it one of the countries with poor investment policies and in which investors have significant difficulties doing business.

“The only place you can go is up although you could stay where you are. It is our intention to move up to the top 100,” Chanakira said.

The breakfast meeting sought solutions on improving the country’s investment climate to ensure the country’s ranking improved.

Chanakira said ZIA, in conjunction with the office of the President and Cabinet, the World Bank and other stakeholders, was working exceptionally hard to improve the rankings.

“We anticipate leaping forward in terms of the rankings,” he said, indicating that Zimbabwe had a wide range of natural resources and human capital, but lacked financial capital.

“That challenge can only be overcome if we improve our operating environment. Currently FDI inflows are low we are punching below our regional competitors’ level,” he said.

FDI refers to foreign direct investment.

Richard Mbaiwa, the ZIA chief executive officer, said World Bank ratings were used by investors in making decisions on investing in countries.

“It is important that we work towards improving business rankings and as the chairman has said, we want to be in the top 100, so there is a lot to do for us to move from 171 to top 100,” he said.

Mbaiwa said the establishment of the Special Economic Zones and the operationalisation of the one-stop-investment shop would go a long way in improving doing business rankings for the country.

“In terms of improving the doing business rankings, reforms are underway currently that will reflect in the next report,” said Mbaiwa.

“We have had a series of meetings facilitated by the World Bank together with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and we have also commissioned a doing business review study. The major objective of that study was to focus on issues to improve the regulatory framework.”

He said they would submit all the reforms to the World Bank before the June 1 deadline.

“I hope all the reforms that have been done are going to be reflected in the next report I believe we are going to see an improvement in our rankings in the 2016 report,” said Mbaiwa.

But industry players argued that as long as there was no clarity on the indigenisation policy as well as security of tenure on farms, investors would continue to snub Zimbabwe regardless of the reforms.

Source : Financial Gazette