HARARE– The Agricultural Development Bank of Zimbabwe (Agribank) says the business environment in the country is improving as a result of policy measures which the government is implementing, heralding bright future prospects for the mid-size commercial bank.

Acting Agribank chairman Thomas Nherera said in a statement here Tuesday that commitments by the government, including fiscal expenditure control and re-engaging the international community will transform the business environment in the country.

The 2018 National Budget statement announced on December 7 last year contained new policy measures which include fiscal reforms to reduce the budget deficit, engagement of the international community for clearance of debt and arrears as well as amendments to the Indigenization and Empowerment Act to remove the 51:49 per cent local ownership requirement for investment in all sectors, except diamond and platinum.

Nherera said the establishment of Special Economic Zones would contribute to foreign direct investment (FDI) which was critical for Zimbabwe’s recovery and growth.

The business environment is improving and will improve even further as macro-, structural and sectoral policy reforms gain traction, he said. The focus on foreign direct investment and the commitment to re-engagement with the international community are important pillars for economic recovery and medium-term growth.

Agribank is supporting government initiatives on financial inclusion through efforts to tap into the unbanked market through micro-finance, Nherera said.

Chief executive officer Sam Malaba said the bank would continue supporting agriculture as it was structuring itself to increase lending to the agricultural sector. Malaba said Agribank would also increase its support to command agriculture by providing working capital for farming schemes.

Financing will be extended to major sub-sectors of agriculture such as tobacco, maize, soya, horticulture as well as the critical fertilizer and chemical industries that support agriculture with inputs, he said. The bank will continue to profitably expand support to agriculture and sustaining business growth initiatives, optimizing on opportunities from the critical role of agriculture in the economy.”

Malaba said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe provided Agribank with an 70 million US dollars export facility, 10 million USD horticulture facility as well as a business linkages and value export facility.