Lungu cheers mining industry

THE successful settlement of the current mining tax regime will save jobs, increase investment and create lasting prosperity for mining suppliers and auxiliary beneficiaries from the mining sector, Zambia Chamber of Mines executive officer Maureen Dlamini has said. 

Ms Dlamini said the chamber was elated that President Edgar Lungu had taken a bold step and directed the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) to quickly resolve the impasse over the Value Added Tax (VAT) refund and the new tax regime.

She said although the chamber had long been in discussion with various ministries over VAT refunds, her organisation was happy that President Lungu had directed that ZRA should find a lasting solution which would be beneficial both to Government and the mining sector.

“We are pleased with the directive by President Lungu to ZRA that the issue of VAT and the new mining tax regime must urgently be dealt with to arrive at a win-win situation. Although we were in discussions with various ministries over a long period of time, we are exceedingly pleased that the President has personally intervened,” Ms Dlamini said.

She said the impasse on VAT refunds and the challenges the mining sector faced could have led to the closure of the mines which could have effectively had far-reaching consequences beyond the immediate welfare of employees of the mines

President Lungu yesterday directed ZRA commissioner-general Berlin Msiska to expedite dialogue with mine owners in Zambia and promptly resolve the impasse over the new tax regime.

Mr Lungu issued the directive in Lusaka after a special session of Cabinet to consider the impasse over the new mining tax regime as well as outstanding VAT refunds owed to mining companies.

He said he wanted to see an amicable settlement that should end in a win-win outcome for both the mining industry and Zambians.

“I want to see increased dialogue and flow of information; that in fact we have been talking to mine owners over these matters. We have to make this clear so that we can forestall the falsehoods that some people are peddling to poison public perception regarding the matter.

“The ultimate aim is to protect jobs and keep mines profitable at the same time. We must also maintain the country’s right to collect due taxes,” said President Lungu.

On VAT status and refunds to the mines, Mr Msiska and Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda reported that a Statutory Instrument (SI) to regulate the payment of refunds would be ready in a matter of days to deal with future refunds.

Mr Chikwanda emphasized that Government was actively engaged in dialogue with the mines and there was no cause for panic or blackmail from any quarters.

Mr Lungu said in the light of existing legal dilemma regarding the claims, new negotiations must be opened to address mechanisms under which any payment would be made.

Meanwhile, President Lungu has reverted Dr Bwalya Ng’andu to Bank of Zambia as deputy governor operations after serving on secondment to the civil service as permanent secretary for Muchinga Province.

Mr Lungu said as deputy governor for operations Dr Ng’andu was in a critical position especially now that Zambia was facing challenges in both domestic and global economies.Mr Lungu said Government has proclaimed its intentions to lower interest rates in order for small businesses to access bank facilities but the Bank of Zambia has persistently been tightening rules even when economic fundamentals suggested the opposite.

“It is my sincere hope that Dr Ng’andu will reinforce the Governor and initiate meaningful dialogue with commercial banks to close avoidable loopholes that induce injurious outflows of our meagre foreign exchange,” said President Lungu.

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