By Thobekile Khumalo
The Construction Industry of Federation of Zimbabwe (CIFOZ) has bemoaned challenges faced by the sector, which are hindering growth and investments opportunities.
Speaking during a conference held in Bulawayo last Thursday, CIFOZ president, Emmanuel Chimedza said the sector was scrutinising policy frameworks that promote a conducive environment for growth.
“We are looking at challenges affecting the construction industry in Zimbabwe and we are also looked at the policy framework that will assist in making sure that we have a conducive environment, which also enables the industry to grow.
“Our main area is funding which we say the local funding side is mainly for a short term investment which is not very conducive for the construction industry because it needs long term loans,” he said.
Chimedza also said there must be import subsidies of equipment procured outside the country and interest rates cuts to facilitate industry growth.
“When buying equipment to bring into the country it takes 9 to 12 months and money will be tied up for quite a long period of time. The moment this equipment lands at the border, the government wants tax,” said Chimedza.
He expressed gratitude for deferment of tax remittances which was given by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA).
“We are happy about the government’s provision of deferring tax payment, however on duty they said they cannot do anything at the moment as it has to be paid instantly,” he said.
He added: “Now the government in terms of contractors is giving us opportunities to work at our capacity. This can be evident in the Harare-Beitbridge road that the government gave us an opportunity to be working on this project without any previous experience.”
“We also want competition, it is healthy. When people come from outside they bring skills which we will also need to learn, but we want those coming from outside to also have a portion of their subcontracts contracted to local people so that there is skills transfer. It can also assist us in doing similar projects in the future.”
Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister, Polite Kambamura said hardwork was crucial in strengthening the industry.
“Hardwork and determination is crucial in strengthening the construction and infrastructure development sectors as well as the build environment chain.
“There is need to explore opportunities within the infrastructure value chain and harness the potential that exists in order to grow the industry and subsequently contribute significantly to the gross domestic environment,” Kambamura said.
The deputy minister said the conference was relevant more than ever as we live through Zimbabwe’s transformative infrastructure drive, which has seen the country making significant strides in development of power transmission, housing and watered utilities.
“We have brilliant ideas on improving our infrastructure development, but as usual financing is always the biggest challenge and how best we can support these projects with limited resources.
He added: “The government has put forward incentives to attract investment in various infrastructure projects and these incentives provided depending on negotiations and types of investments.”
Government has limited budgetary capacity to fund infrastructural development while it is hard for contractors to borrow offshore, but have
to work with locally available funds.