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Moderator: Mr Amiel Matindike – Director, Axis Solutions   Panelists: Mr. Anthony Kabaghe – President, Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ZACCI); Mr Carlos E. Caceres - Resident Representative, IMF Zimbabwe; Ms. Eve C. Gadzikwa – CEO, SADC Accreditation Service; and Prof. Tony Hawkins – Economist

According to Prof. Tony Hawkins, two issues are standing out on the policy agenda and these include the debt overhang given the inconsistency in the GDP numbers and currency instability. In 43 years, Zimbabwe had only one IMF Staff Monitored Programme that has been successful and this has been affecting the re-engagement and engagement initiatives. The operating environment is marred by policy inconsistencies and in this sphere, de-dollarization is extremely difficult to achieve.

In line with the earlier submissions by Prof. Ashok Chakravarti, Mr Anthony Kabaghe emphasized that comparative advantage which involves looking at what a country is good at and focusing on it is critical towards transforming economic realities into market opportunities. Critically, wealth creation is in value addition. The Government, private sector, and academia need to talk to each other and formulate strong policies around it. The local content policy should cater to the industry’s needs.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Resident Representative, Mr Carlos E. Caceres highlighted the work that the IMF has been doing in Zimbabwe, particularly through the Staff Monitored Programme (SMP). Some of the Programmes were implemented at a time when there was a need for significant adjustments in various areas including fiscal adjustment. For Zimbabwe, the main issues are macroeconomic instability, exchange rate distortions, and policy inconsistencies. The wide parallel market margins are derailing from economic and market fundamentals as there have been excessive liquidity injections by the central bank in recent years. In terms of financing planning and addressing the exchange rate, one key recommendation is to get rid of the foreign exchange market restrictions and SI 118a.

Ms Eve C. Gadzikwa reported that the country’s exports are growing and indeed speaking to the Government’s policy on export-led growth. Thus, more support and deliberate steps toward enhanced value addition are required to achieve the set targets in terms of export receipts. Enhancing competitiveness by bringing down the cost of production, restoring confidence, and enhancing trade facilitation will facilitate effective participation in regional trade. With regards to standards, they are gradually changing and getting more demanding – meeting standards is critical with easy access to markets. The long queues at the borders should be reduced.