Govt turns to accountants
TO bolster its capabilities in luring offshore investors,government has roped in chartered accountants (CAs) to help in matters related to structuring offshore deals, as it moves to attract foreign investment, the Financial Gazette’s Companies & Markets (C&M) can report.
The development comes against the backdrop of efforts by government to re-position the country by recalibrating its policies, particularly the indigenisation policy, to regain confidence from international investors.
The situation could bailout an economy tottering on the brink of collapse due to company closures, with unemployment now estimated unofficially to have hit over 90 percent.
Speaking at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe (ICAZ) Winter School in Dubai this month, Industry and Commerce Minister, Mike Bimha, challenged the accounting professionals to take part in reviving the economy, saying they had a critical role to play in the turnaround of the country’s fortunes.
Bimha said there was an urgent need for CAs to join hands with government and gave them three months to come up with solutions on how to structure deals to lure offshore investors.
“You (CAs) should be at the forefront of the crusade to lure investors,” said Bimha.
“Your role as CAs is not just to audit or sign off accounts, you play a key role in the economy.
“Local companies require funding because they need to retool, they need to recapitalise and they need to re-equip. unfortunately, most of our local financial institutions don’t have that money and the little that they have is really more on short-term basis. Therefore, that’s the challenge I want to put across to ICAZ.
“Can you come forward and structure arrangements to funding industry. The enthusiasm is there (but) what they lack is funding.
“I would like ICAZ within three months to come and see us with proposals on how to structure funding arrangements offshore.”
Investors rely on financial information and one of the most important duties of a CA is to oversee the issues surrounding the capital structure and shaping the strategy of organisations.
CAs must determine the best mix of debt and equity.
They are increasingly being relied upon as the owners of business information, charged with analysing financial strengths and weaknesses and suggest plans for improvement to enable the company or government to operate more effectively and efficiently.
While CAs play an important role and add great value in their organisations, where they act as a check on the chief executive officer and board of directors, Bimha admitted that they must also advice government for caution and due care, query and question, expose uncomfortable truths and highlight possible risks which government officials can sometimes overlook as they conclude funding arrangements.
The Winter School, organised by ICAZ through its United Arab Emirates members led by Bernard Tapera ,ran under the theme: “Expanding horizons, elevating minds-unlocking Zimbabwe’s tourism and investment potential”, with the aim of showcasing Zimbabwe as a viable tourist and investment destination.
This was the first winter school to be held outside of Zimbabwe since the institute was established in 1918.
This year’s Winter School attracted a record breaking number of at least 400 delegates who graced the flagship event.
It brought together ICAZ members scattered across the globe, senior government officials, chief executives officers, chief finance officers and other accounting professionals, who are decision makers within their organisations and investors.
Last year in October, ICAZ, in collaboration with the South African Chapter, held its maiden investors conference in Polokwane, South Africa, with the aim of market Zimbabwe as a lucrative investment destination, which was attended by high net worth speakers and investors.
More than 60 delegates attended the event.