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Economic symposium on cards

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MANDEL Training Centre in collaboration with the Gordon Institute of Business Science will next week hold the year’s first major economic outlook symposium to explore solutions to challenges facing the economy. Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa will be the guest of honour at the economic outlook conference scheduled for Monomotapa Crown Plaza Hotel in Harare on January 15.

Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha will also join a cast of high profile local and foreign economic experts set to present papers at the event to be held under the theme “Creativity and Innovation: Rethinking the Game Plan for Zimbabwe’s Economy”.

High profile experts from the private sector will be World Bank senior country economist Dr Nadia Piffaretti, Dr Adrian Saville (Gibs South Africa), Anamaria Wills (Cidaco, UK), James Mushore (chief executive NMBZ) and Lovemore Manatsa (managing director, BAT Zim).

Discussions are expected to centre on working capital constraints to businesses, competition from bigger and better resourced countries, the impact of high labour costs and falling industrial capacity.

The objective is to breathe renewed vigour into the economy for 2014 and create a platform for sharing perspectives that inform strategic planning in the economy and assist in refining existing strategic plans.

It is also targeted at enhancing capacity amongst key players in the economy to think global, while acting locally thereby speeding the economic turnaround of this country following a decade long instability.

The symposium is aimed at bringing together thought leaders in the country to share ideas on how to breathe life into local businesses and the economy at large and how to turn the ideas into effective strategic plans.

The economy faces possible decline after registering fast recovery growth after adopting multi-currencies, dominated by the US dollar in 2009.

Zimbabwe faces a myriad of economic challenges, but competition, high labour costs, working capital and falling industrial capacity rank higher.

Local products have been crowded out by cheaper imports mainly from South Africa and China, which have lower and more attractive prices.

Companies have also struggled to secure funding for recapitalisation to replace old equipment and machinery as banks only provide expensive mostly short term funding at a time foreign multilateral financial institutions are not willing to lend to Zimbabwe.

The firms have also cited the inflexibility of the country’s labour laws that make it difficult for companies to retrench in trying to right size and reduce costs at a time workers are also demanding higher salaries.

Industrial capacity utilisation has also continued declining over the last two years, falling further from about 44 percent last year to about 39 percent, according statistics from the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries.

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