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‘Local authorities letting SMEs’ down

The Zimbabwean economy is propped up by businesses that are classified into many groups depending on factors such as annual turnover, number of employees, value of assets

‘Local authorities letting SMEs’ down

LOCAL authorities should do more to support Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) through offering decent and conducive places to operate from.

Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Women’s Affairs, Community Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Maybe Mbowa, said this during a recent tour of SMEs operations in Kwekwe.

The committee has embarked on a nationwide tour of SMEs to get first-hand information on the challenges faced by the businesses across the country.

Speaking to journalists after the visit, Mbowa said it was worrying that local authorities were mainly keen on collecting taxes and other benefits from SMEs businesses without creating a supporting environment for businesses to operate.

“The biggest challenge is that local authorities are not doing enough to make sure that the SMEs have a conducive environment to operate from yet they collect rentals and rates from them,” she said.

Senator Mbowa said a motion would be tabled in Parliament requesting that SMEs be exempted from paying rentals for a period that they have not been operating due to Covid-19-induced lockdown.

“We have discovered that some local authorities and owners of buildings are still claiming rentals that were accumulated during the lockdown. These people are struggling to raise capital and we should move in to assist them in every way we can,” she said.

Senator Mbowa SMEs were the largest employers in the country at the moment and called for concerted efforts in creating a supporting environment for them to thrive.

“We are saying SMEs are accounting for about 72 percent of the country’s workforce and as such this is a very crucial sector in our economy,” she said.

Representatives from Kwekwe-based SMEs operators ranging from small-scale miners, flea market owners and food outlets, attended the function that was held at Kwekwe Recreational Park.

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