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Investment Bill now law
Martin Kadzere,The Herald Reporter (Zimbabwe)
September 28, 2006

http://www1.herald.co.zw/inside.aspx?sectid=9526&cat=8

THE Zimbabwe Investment Centre (ZIC) and Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) have stopped approving projects from prospective investors following the passage of the Zimbabwe Investment Authority Bill into law.

What it means is that the EPZA and ZIC Acts no longer have any force or effect, legal experts indicated yesterday.

At the moment, there is nothing happening at both companies in terms of their core business, sources said.

"We have stopped approving and considering new projects," said one source with EPZA, adding: "If we ever give any prospective investor a licence, that will be deemed illegal."

Assuming that no urgent measures are taken in coming up with strategies on handling the administrative issues during the transitional period, it could slow down the country’s bid to attract investments at a time they are needed most.

ZIA is a product of the merger between EPZA and ZIC. Sources have pointed out that little was covered on the operational modalities of ZIA, thereby casting a shadow on the credibility of the new institution.

The Ministry of Industry and International Trade was expected to make an announcement on how administrative issues would be handled during the transitional phase.

ZIC and EPZA chief executives Mr Dominic Mubaiwa and Mr Walter Chidhakwa respectively were reluctant to comment on the matter, referring all questions to the Minister of Industry and International Trade, Mr Obert Mpofu.

"We have an officer within the ministry who is dealing with that issue and progress is being made," Mr Mpofu said with little sense of urgency.

The new law provides for the establishment of a one-stop investment shop responsible for implementing promotion of decentralisation of investment activities and supervising the implementation of approved projects among other issues.

The Act also provides for an 11-member board appointed by the Minister of Industry and International Trade in consultation with the President. An investment committee would also be set up with responsibility for making recommendations to the board for approval or rejection of application for investment licences. It will be chaired by the ZIA chief executive.

Under the Act, the board will be required to submit reports to the minister on its operations and other issues as the minister may require. The minister would be mandated with publishing guidelines for investment, which shall mention general incentives that may be applicable to licensed investors, whether foreign or local.

Investment inflows into Zimbabwe haven taken a dip in the recent years due to the perceived country risk and macro-economic challenges facing the country.

But some investment analysts say while the above factors have contributed to the decline in inflows, lack of adequate information to prospective investors had also hamstrung investment.

Experts say up-to-date information to potential investors, especially in new markets, was vital as it would give them guidelines on investment opportunities in the country.

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