News Column

Confidence-Building Vital First Step

July 3, 2014



EARLY this week, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya brought a message of hope to Zimbabwe. He said the liquidity situation is not tight as only five banks are in trouble.

In the same week, the central bank released the first quarter banking report which showed that profits in the banking industry have increased, five-times the December amount of US$4,4 million.

The same report also shows that non performing loans have increased to 16.96 percent as the weak economy weighed down the borrower's ability to pay.

This is what sums up the state of the economy.

But Dr Mangudya told Parliament that the economy was nowhere near collapsing, with the liquidity challenges being experienced not as tight and gloomy as some quarters would want to portray.

The problems facing the economy are real, but what makes Dr Mangudya's message plausible is that he tried to inspire confidence in the economy.

The biggest problem facing the country at the moment is that of perception and rhetoric. Confidence is the first step in getting a solution to the current crisis.

Once the nation is confident in itself, it will start thinking positively and shake off the negative perception.

Government on the other hand, needs to re-develop confidence in the economy and expedite all decision making processes.

There is need to put in place the speedy grant of approvals at all levels particularly improving the time and processes involved in getting approvals for investment.

Our indigenisation policy should allow Zimbabweans to partake in the economy at the same time promoting the movement of Zimbabwean enterprises into Africa. The Government needs to come up with a smart way of creating savings among its citizens.

We agree with Dr Mangudya when he said that the central bank would deal with toxic debt sitting on some of the financial institutions books. But in order to get there Government should be predictable and consistent in its Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment policies and regulations and possibly think twice about the level of compliance in the banking sector.

There is need to clean all that mess, even if it means foreclosure of the issuers of such debt securities so be it. In Nigeria, they created AMCON to warehouse bank loans, maybe this could work for us here in Zimbabwe.

For Nigeria, establishing a central resolution vehicle funded by the banking industry was a more equitable (and effective) solution than bailing out banks with public funds.

Zimbabwe's situation is worsened by the limited policy options of Government and the central bank, owing to limited foreign reserves and a lack of domestic currency

Last but not least investing in skills will be key in getting the country forward. It's good the Government launched its youth policy and the graduate policy GEEP last year.

There has always been a lot of rhetoric around literacy rates being the highest, but these are only good in as far as people are able to read the doctor's prescription and the menu at Chicken Inn.

It's good that President Mugabe has in recent days been emphasising on skills development.

The central bank after hyperinflation lost its functions and this also translated to a loss in skills.

There is need to boost skills at the RBZ to ensure strict monitoring and supervision of financial institutions.

To this end, Government should build from the bottom and improve the level of education in the country.


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Source: AllAfrica


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