LACK of a deliberate Government policy to support local contractors has frustrated their efforts despite being competent enough to undertake the contracts that are being given to foreign companies, says National Empowerment Forum (NEF) executive director Edgar Siakachoma.
Mr Siakachoma said perceptions that local contractors were not doing a good job even if they were given subcontracts were not true, but instead lack of support for them had worked to their disadvantage.
He said local contractors were in most cases not given advanced payments to carry on their work, compared to foreign companies that received huge funding from their Governments before commencement of works.
“Our local contractors are at times not even given advanced payments to enable them start their projects if any, but you find that they will depend on the little input they might have.
‘‘How do you expect them to do the work effectively as compared to those foreign companies,” he said.
He said Zambia had capable engineers who could work on many projects, adding that even the same foreign contractors were using them, saying some people were only interested in saying than doing.
Mr Siakachoma said indigenous contractors were frustrated because of failure by relevant authority to implement the policy supporting local contractors.
He said at times it was not that local contractors were failing to meet the demand but that they lacked support from Government officials. He referred to the Citizens Economic Empowerment Act 9 of 2006, whose overall goal was to contribute to sustainable economic development by building capacity in Zambian-owned companies.
Mr Siakachoma said should the local companies be ignored, the much needed economic growth of the country would not be realised, as many of the foreign companies were taking their profits to their countries.
He said the construction works being awarded to foreign companies would have empowered a lot of Zambians had the local companies received support.
“This is not to say we should not award contracts to the other nationalities for that matter but where there are clear opportunities to promote the emergence of Zambian enterprises, they must be supported for them to do a good job,” he said.