INDUSTRY and Commerce minister Mike Bimha says Bulawayo industries are top priority to benefit from a $100 million credit facility extended to Zimbabwe by the Indian government.
The Zimbabwe government will provide collateral for the facility.
Bimha told guests at the Alpha Media Holdings Conversations series last Wednesday held concurrently with the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair that the Distressed Industries and Marginalised Areas Fund (Dimaf) was not enough to resuscitate ailing firms in Bulawayo.
“When I travelled to India with minister (Sithembiso) Nyoni (Small and Medium Enterprises and Co-operative Development), Zimbabwe was one of the countries chosen to benefit from a $100 million buyers’ credit facility extended by India.
“Companies which require machinery from India will apply for funding and the government of Zimbabwe will offer collateral and companies will get the equipment.
“We are still working on the logistics, but we believe that the facility would have preference on companies in Bulawayo as there is need for more equipment,” Bimha said.
He said the $40 million industrial revival fund; Dimaf was a drop in the ocean.
“There have been measures in the last five years to resuscitate industries through Dimaf. Dimaf was just a drop in the ocean. It did not help much. Therefore we need to find other resources to fund industries.
“We are in the process of coming up with an institution dedicated to funding industries. The Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socioeconomic Transformation (ZimAsset) talks about that fund and negotiations are at an advanced stage.
“It will be a fund asset management company, but with firm focus on funding industry. That will go long way addressing issues of funding in Bulawayo” the minister added.
However, Bimha said it was not yet certain whether Bulawayo would be declared a special economic zone anytime soon.
“The debate taking place at the moment of setting up economic zones is another way of encouraging direct foreign investment in-terms of coming up with packages or incentives for particular areas.
“There has been much talk on Bulawayo being declared a special economic zone, but again it’s too early to be definitive about it” he said.
Special economic zones are designated areas in a country that possess special economic status enjoying tax incentives and exemption from duty on importation of raw materials, among other things, to create an investor-friendly environment.
Bulawayo industries have been calling on the government to declare the city a special economic zone under a single board housing all institutions certified investments and establishment of business.