FINANCE minister Felix Mutati has challenged mining companies to be transparent and innovative in order to foster confidence among Zambians on the role they are playing in the economy as well as enabling them to meet new challenges with unique solutions.
And Mr. Mutati said Government would ensure that it created stable and predictable policy environment through dialogue as stability was key in attaining long-term positive outlook of the sector, saying macro-economic emancipation was only attainable if Government engaged with players in the sector.
Speaking during a meeting with stakeholders from the Chamber of Mines in Kitwe yesterday, Mr. Mutati said there was no justification in having multiple figures about what a mining company was producing and exporting as that created suspicion, adding that he did not expect disparities in information obtained by key institutions such as the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) and the Bank of Zambia (BoZ) on figures from the same institution.
“Transparency is important. Let us put figures on the table. Let us not have two parallel books. Let us all have one book, one balance sheet and that is the balance sheet of the people of Zambia.
‘‘We don’t want to get to a situation where we ask the Bank of Zambia, ZRA about the production levels and we get three different figures. Using IT, people must know what is being produced and what is being exported.
“There must be one figure and not many figures because that is transparency.
‘‘Multiple figures create multiple interpretations and multiple interpretations create suspicion and we are generating that ourselves and that is why an ordinary person on the street is doubtful of the role of mining and its contribution to GDP, employment and everything else because the figures are not consistent and so the issue of transparency remains key in engagement,” Mr. Mutati said.
He said that the current challenges in the sector could be addressed if Government and players in the mining sector worked together, adding that there was need for dialogue as Government was working on the 2017 Budget in order to prevent a repeat of the 2016 situation where projected revenue collection was in the shortfall.
“It is quite clear that the economic conditions we are going through are difficulty but not insurmountable. We are all clear that the global environment is also difficulty but it is not unusual. It requires thinking. It requires collaboration.
‘We are also conscious that our macro-economic stability will only be achieved if we work with you because you are key players in issues surrounding the exchange rate, the inflation and liquidity and that is why we came early to you because we are now constructing the 2017 national Budget’’.