TWENTY FOURTH POST-CABINET PRESS BRIEFING
14TH JULY 2020
1. ZIMBABWE’S RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK
The Chairman of the Ad-Hoc Inter-Ministerial Task Force on COVID-19, Honourable Vice President K.C.D. Mohadi, presented the weekly Report on the National Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak, which was adopted by Cabinet. Cabinet was informed that, out of the ninety-one thousand one hundred and three (91 103) tests conducted throughout the country, one thousand and thirty-four (1 034) were confirmed COVID-19 positive, compared to the seven hundred and thirty-four (734) cases reported on 6 July, 2020. The number of those who have recovered has increased from the previously reported one hundred and ninety-seven (197) to three hundred and forty-three (343), while deaths have increased from nine (9) to nineteen (19). This leaves the number of active cases at six hundred and seventy-two (672). Bulawayo and Harare Metropolitan Provinces have recorded the highest number of deaths with seven (7) and eight (8) deaths, respectively.Of the one thousand and thirty-four (1 034) confirmed cases, seven hundred and twenty-five (725) were imported from countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and America with returnees from South Africa and Botswana contributing the most cases. This means the total number of locally transmitted cases now stands at three hundred and nine (309) cases.
Cabinet is disturbed by the spike in COVID-19 locally transmitted cases and the number of deaths recorded. To curb the increase in transmissions as well as deaths from COVID-19, the following measures were adopted: (a) that the current lockdown restrictions will be tightened, while localised lockdowns are introduced in hotspot areas and further opening up of the economy is halted; (b)that testing in communities with high cases of local transmission such as Bulawayo will be increased; (c) that the re-opening of schools shall be deferred pending a review of the situation, while the writing of public examinations continues;(d)that private schools that have already opened without permission will be penalized; (e) that Government shall have the sole responsibility for inter-city travel for those that really require to travel especially to seek medical attention; and (f) that two (2) buses will be availed to transport those that test positive from Beitbridge to their respective provincial isolation centres.
Cabinet also noted and approved the ongoing restructuring of the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
Cabinet further noted with concern that some members of some religious sects have gathered in their numbers in Manicaland Province for their yearly retreat, in contravention of COVID-19 regulations that prohibit gatherings of more than fifty (50) people. This poses high risk to the spread of COVID-19. Accordingly, Cabinet directed that the gathering should disperse forthwith.
Let me also take this opportunity to report that His Excellency the President will announce comprehensive measures on the way forward regarding the country’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
2. 2020 MID-TERM BUDGET AND ECONOMIC REVIEW AND UPDATE ON THE STATE OF THE FINANCIAL SECTOR AND MONETARY REFORMS
Cabinet received and approved a presentation from the Minister of Finance and Economic Development on the 2020 Mid-Term Budget and Economic Review and Update on the State of the Financial Sector and Monetary Reforms. Full details of the proposed measures will be made in Parliament on Thursday, 16th July, 2020.
3. EXTENSION OF PERIOD OF PAYING INCENTIVE ON MAIZE DELIVERIES
Cabinet has extended the period over which farmers will receive the 30% incentive for delivering maize to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) from 31st July 2020 to the 31st August 2020. Farmers are urged to liaise with their nearest GMB depots and Agricultural Extension Officers for assistance in the transportation of their produce.
4. PROPOSED STRATEGIES FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF PHASE II OF THE EASE OF DOING BUSINESS REFORMS
The Ministers of Mines and Mining Development; Energy and Power Development; Local Government and Public Works; and Finance and Economic Development presented to Cabinet on proposed strategies for the implementation of Phase II of the Ease of Doing Business Reforms.
a) Ministry of Mines and Mining Development
The Ministry is finalising amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act to bring the legislation in line with internationally competitive, modern, friendly and supportive law. The amended Act will help enhance investor confidence.
The Ministry is also implementing the Mining Computerised Information Management (cadastre) System (MCIMS) to speed up registration of mining title and minimising disputes through correctly positioning mining titles.
b) Ministry of Energy and Power Development
The Ministry has put in place measures for reducing and standardising connection and application procedures. These include: Standardised reporting from Regions on Reliability indices; Compensation to customers for damaged equipment due to voltage fluctuations; Quality control of customer wiring; and availability of connection material.
c) Ministry of Local Government and Public Works
The Ministry has introduced the following reforms: (a) the Construction Permit is now obtainable within 136 days as opposed to the earlier 208 days; (b) duration of local authorities response to application for construction reduced from 35 to 14 days; (c) One-Stop Shop plan introduced and approval sessions being held twice a week; (d) the number of inspections of stages during construction were reduced from 7 to 4 thereby reducing the overall time and cost of construction. Work to further improve the doing business environment is in progress.
d) Ministry of Finance and Economic Development
The Ministry in consultation with line Ministries and stakeholders has identified the following areas, among others for reform:
Implementation of the Collateral Registry
Lack of immovable collateral security by mainstream lenders remains a major challenge. In order to address this challenge, Government through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has taken initiative to establish a collateral registry for moveable assets, with a view to expanding the range of assets that qualify as collateral security. The movable assets to be used as collateral will include, but not limited to: Agricultural and industrial equipment; inventory and raw materials; vehicles; households items; and agricultural products (livestock, poultry, crops), among others.
Paying tax reforms are centred on creating a conducive environment for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises by minimising costs and time spent during payment of tax obligations to the Fiscus.
Trading Across Borders
Trade facilitation is a crucial element in enhancing ease of movement of commercial cargo and travellers. The reforms involve automation, which will enhance efficiency of tax administration. Plans are at an advanced stage on the implementation of an Electronic Single Window system whereby payment of fees, charges, levies for services offered by Agencies are done through the electronic platform.
Creating a Conducive Environment for SMEs
SMEs have the potential of becoming an anchor to growth and development of the economy, through their contribution to employment creation, poverty alleviation, economic empowerment and participation of previously disadvantaged groups, such as women and the youth. The key strategy would be the creation of a conducive environment for the sector through a Simplified Tax Regime.