Friday, 26 February 2021

MTHULI NCUBE : ECONOMY HAS PEAKED

ZIMBABWE’S economy has in the last 12 months peaked in line with the National Development Strategy (NDS1) as evidenced by more commercial cargo now passing through Beitbridge Border Post which is the country and Sadc’s busiest inland port of entry, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube said yesterday.

The minister said trade facilitation through Beitbridge was expected to move a gear up upon the completion of the ongoing US$300 million modernisation of the border which is being implemented by the Zimborders Consortium.

At the moment, the border handles close to 40 000 commercial trucks, 100 000 private cars, 4 000 buses, and 500 000 travellers monthly and it is envisaged that the border will carry fivefold its current capacity after two-and-half years.

In an interview after the tour of the modernisation project, Minister Ncube said the Zimbabwe revenue authority and other stakeholders had done well in addressing the congestion that was haunting the border post during the festive season.

He said Zimra had increased its revenue collection and he attributed this to a raft of measures being implemented by Government to promote ease of doing business.

“We are doing a lot to support Zimra and it is pleasing to note that business has just increased in the last 12 months. If we look at the number of commercial trucks using this border alone, they have just grown by 100 percent. We had an additional 40 percent growth in commercial cargo here due to the closure of the border between Botswana and South Africa. So, the traffic was diverted here, that’s why we had sharp build during the last few weeks, but that has been contained through a variety of strategies,” said Prof Ncube.

He said Zimra had put more staff on the ground to make the movement of cargo seamless.

Minister Ncube said the weighbridge process for the commercial trucks had been reviewed and now more efficient and the adoption of pre-clearance system had also lessened the time goods spend at the border.

The facility involves the declaration and payment of duties before the goods reach a specific port of entry/exit.

“The border modernisation which is expected to be completed in the next two- and-half years will improve the way of doing business here under the One-Stop Border Post concept. In addition, customs clearing agents have now been legally included in the essential service providers’ bracket making it possible for them to facilitate regional and international trade on 24-hour basis,” said Minister Ncube.

He said the border modernisation project will have an overspill effect on Beitbridge as the border town’s roads, water and sewer reticulation infrastructure will be upgraded as well.

Minister Ncube said Zimborders will also build 200 houses for border officials and upgrade all the necessary ancillary services.

He said Government had also allocated RTGS$2 billion to Matabeleland South province to fund infrastructure and economic development projects.

“We have exchanged notes with the Minister Responsible for Devolution in this area (Abedneco Ncube) on the importance of accelerating the implementation of the projects in line with the Government thrust.

“As a quick win solution, we have availed RTGS$154 million to Beitbridge district to buy graders to be used in maintaining and servicing roads under Beitbridge Municipality, Beitbridge East and West constituencies respectively,” said Prof Ncube. Chronicle

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