The Ministry of Industry and Commerce has some strategic statutory bodies under its purview. One of which is the Standards Development Fund which was established through an Act of Parliament, the Standards Development Act [Chapter 14:19) of 1987.
In order to get detailed information about SDF, the Chief Correspondent (CC) of this Magazine managed to talk to Mrs Monalisa Mandida Makaranga (MMM), the new Head of the SDF.
CC: Mrs Monalisa Mandida Makaranga. Everyone out there would like to know more about your organisation. What it does and its significance. Maybe to begin with. Tell us, as the new head of the SDF, do you have any new plans to transform this organisation?
MMM: Standards Development Fund was established to collect a levy of 0.5 percent on employers wage bill and distribute it to beneficiaries who are involved in the development and promotion of standards and quality of goods and services and for other related purposes. Currently there exists an information gap between the Fund, employers and other stakeholders in terms of the existence of the fund and its objectives. As an organization, our aim is to bridge the gap by raising awareness through stakeholder engagements.
CC: People may want to know, is SDF an independent body, a parastatal or government department?
MMM: SDF is a Statutory Fund within the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
CC: May you take us through the background history of SDF and in overall functions?
MMM: SDF was established through the Act of Parliament Chapter 14:19 of 1987. The Minister of Industry and Commerce is empowered to impose a levy of 0.5% of the total remuneration payable by the employer to his employees. Payments are paid four times a year.
The overall function of the SDF is to collect a levy of 0.5% and distribute it to the beneficiaries who are involved in the development and promotion of standards and quality of goods and services.
CC: How does SDF aid or promote the Ministry of Industry and Commerce’s mandate or functions?
MMM: The Ministry’s mandate is to facilitate and promote the development of sustainable, innovative, inclusive and globally competitive industrial and commercial enterprises for economic growth. SDF promotes the Ministry’s mandate primarily through funding for the development of standards and standardization of commodities and services in Zimbabwe in order to enhance the competitiveness of locally manufactured goods and services on the global market.
CC: May you explain to us, who are the beneficiaries of SDF and how does that link with the Ministry mandate?
MMM: The current beneficiaries of SDF are: SAZ, SIRDC (NMI), Trade Measures, NCC and SADCAS which are responsible for ensuring or promoting quality and standardisation in the manufacturing of products and services for both local and international markets.
CCC: Are there any penalties for offences that are committed by members of the business community/employers/employees in violation of any section of the SDF Act and are you empowered to arrest or sue anyone for violating any of the sections of the Act?
MMM: Yes, there are penalties for offences committed by employers. Any employer who fails to pay the levy on due date will be surcharged an amount equivalent to 10% if levy is not paid within the time prescribed (paragraph as amended by Section11 of Act No.12 of 1997).
CC: Do you retain 100% of revenue you collect or how is revenue collected utilized?
MMM: Yes, SDF retains 100% of its revenue collected. The revenue collected is distributed to its beneficiaries who are involved in the development and promotion of standards and quality of goods and services.
CC: Which instrument do you use to collect levy? What is the collection period?
MMM: SI 140 of 2007 provides for quarterly collection of levy being 0,5% of the total remuneration payable by the employer to his or her employees.
CC: How are the public and the private benefiting from the revenue collected?
MMM: The public and the private benefit from revenue collected in the following ways:
- i) Standards promote national production in terms of quality, quantity and reliability and also enhances quality of consumer products.
- ii) Protection of public health and safety in relation to measuring instruments used.
CC: If companies or employers want to know how they benefit from the levy collected, could you please briefly explain?
MMM: In one way or the other everyone is a consumer, therefore the development of standards and standardization of commodities and services in Zimbabwe assists Zimbabwean goods and services to compete on the global market. It also ensures that the consumer is protected from unscrupulous business people.
CC: Who approves beneficiaries of the funds collected by SDF?
MMM: The Minister for Industry and Commerce is responsible for the approval of SDF beneficiaries.
CC: Who is the Trustee of the Fund and do you prepare budgets and who approve the budgets?
MMM: The Trustee of the Fund is the Minister. Yes, the Fund prepares an annual budget which shall be approved Treasury.
CCC: In terms of consumer protection, how does SDF contribute to consumer protection and quality of products manufactured in the country?
MMM: SDF contributes through funding of beneficiaries such as Trade Measures which is a section within the Ministry responsible for Consumer protection and quality assurance of products.
CCC: Where are you located so that if anyone wants to visit your offices, may easily find your offices? Are your services available online?
MMM: The head office is located at number 1 Adylin Road, In Marlborough and we have offices in Bulawayo, Gweru, Masvingo and Mutare.
CCC: Do you have any additional information you would like to share with members of the public?
MMM: Standards Development Levy is collected every quarter and is payable on the following dates 15 April, 15 July, 15 October and 15 January of every year in arrears. The fund has inspectors who move around regularly across the nation to verify the wage bill.