By Luckmore Safuli
DUBBED as a ‘Game Changer’, the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange (VFEX) has been officially launched with expectations that it will emerge as a competitive global platform to raise capital and to drive Foreign Direct Inflows into the Zimbabwean economy.
The Zimbabwean government has made a bold statement in its quest to transform the country’s tourism capital into an attractive Offshore Financial Services Centre, with the launch of the United States dollar-based Victoria Falls Stock Exchange.
Guest of honour at the official opening ceremony, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube stressed the importance of the platform as a gateway for local and global companies to raise capital in foreign currency.
“The establishment of the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange is one of the many initiatives government is pursuing to stabilize our economy and attract foreign direct investments,” said Professor Ncube.
The treasury boss also reiterated the government’s desire to list a bond meant to raise funds for compensating former white commercial farmers under the Global Compensation Deed Agreement.
“As a government, we are looking at listing one or two bonds in hard currency on VFEX. We are even thinking of listing part of the bonds required to raise funds for the Global Compensation Agreement to compensate the former white commercial farmers,” he said.
Capital markets stakeholders and other dignitaries who graced the momentous event concurred on the importance of ensuring that in the long run, the offshore financial service centre can compete with other platforms like the Dubai International Financial Centre.
Trading on the bourse is expected to commence on Monday with the trading of Seed Co International Limited shares.
A total of 17 securities firms and 13 sponsors have registered to participate on the platform.
Meanwhile, the mining industry is bullish that the just-launched Victoria Falls Stock Exchange (VFEX) will provide a platform for raising of capital towards re-tooling and expansion in line with government’s desire to transform the sector into a 12 billion United States dollar industry.
The capital intensive mining industry is set to be the biggest beneficiary of the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange, with many mining firms already expressing interest to list on the foreign currency bourse to raise capital for their operations.
Speaking during the maiden launch of VFEX, Mines and Mining Development Minister Mr Winston Chitando described the exchange as a game-changer and stressed the importance of capital markets in the growth of the mining industry.
“I would like to say to the board and management of the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange and the capital markets in general that let us work together. Let us realign our thinking and adopt a collective effort in growing our economy,” said Minister Chitando.
Former diplomat and War Veterans National Chairperson, Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa is convinced that exchange will help unlock investments in the foreign currency drove mining sector.
“Indeed a very auspicious moment to have the VFEX opened and set to target the global capital. Now African minerals can have their marriage with the capital. The flower can now be pollinated, that is what has happened here with the opening of the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange,” he said.
Industry and Commerce Minister, Dr Sekai Nzenza highlighted the government’s desire to increase productivity and resuscitate critical firms such as Ziscosteel.
“ (We are currently importing 1.1 billion worth of steel products. We are going to be producing our steel. We will resuscitate Ziscosteel and secondly we shall be focusing on the low handing fruits such as the leather production and pharmaceuticals,” she said.
Among some of the incentives being offered to investors that participate on VFEX include 5% dividend withholding tax, exemption from capital gains withholding tax, minimal currency risk and ability to move capital and dividends in and out freely.
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