THE Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) says government needs to consult before signing Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (Bippa).
Economist and ZNCC member Brains Muchemwa was speaking before a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade on Tuesday.
“In as much as the government consults business, it doesn’t take it to the consultation tables with other countries,” said Muchemwa.
Meanwhile, the Bippa between Zimbabwe and Botswana was signed on Wednesday, a day after ZNCC had complained at the meeting with the portfolio committee over lack of progress on signing the agreement.
Muchemwa said the signing of the Bippa would ease the burden on both business and the country to access credit. Zimbabwe has not been able to access lines of credit from the traditional creditors, World Bank and is also struggling to get Foreign Direct Investment.
“We had hoped that the Bippa would make it easier for business to access lines of credit that could come handy as Zimbabwe is failing to get it and banks are giving expensive short term credit,” said Muchemwa.
Committee chairman, Tapera Mukanduri, said that there was nothing much his committee could do as some of the matters raised by ZNCC were the responsibility of committees to do with finance.
“You can give us your questions and we will put them across to other ministers and raise them in parliament, because Bippas don’t fall under our jurisdiction and lines of credit falls under the committee that deals with Finance and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce,” said Mukanduri
ZNCC also raised concern over the influx of genetically modified products on the Zimbabwean market, a development that has seen the market flooded with cheap products.
“Local producers are not allowed to use GMOs. These GMO products are causing a competitive challenge on our local producers as they are unable to produce as much as the foreign companies who produce bulk in such a short time,” said Muchemwa. “The domestic manufacturing sector may also be wiped out because of these GMOs since we don’t have the technology and expertise to manufacture.”
He called on the Standards Association of Zimbabwe to adequately certify goods that enter the country especially sensitive products that deal with mass consumption.
“SAZ is not well capacitated to deal with issues of standards and quality control. Its role has to be redefined in a manner to regulate standards of what comes into the country,” said Muchemwa. He called on the government to make sure that SAZ controls all the products that enter the country through border posts.
“SAZ should evaluate the quality of foreign products and how they are making their way into Zimbabwe,” said Muchemwa.
Mukanduri said that SAZ falls under other portfolio committees but added, “SAZ will not have the capacity to man all the border posts.”
He assured ZNCC that their queries will be tabled in Parliament.