Friday, December 14, 2007

Hichilema calls for mutual benefits on mining agreements

Hichilema calls for mutual benefits on mining agreements
By Nomusa Michelo
Friday December 14, 2007 [03:00]

United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema has said the re-negotiation of mining agreements should be mutually beneficial to the people of Zambia and the mining houses. In an interview, Hichilema said if there was reluctance either on the part of the government or the mining houses to reach a compromise, the people of Zambia would continue to put pressure, which no one would withstand.

“It is a requirement that the people of Zambia benefit from the mineral resource endowment that God gave us and so it must be a mutually win-win situation between the citizens and the investors,” he said.

“That is how it happens everywhere in the world. When there is an up turn in the metal commodity prices, the citizens that own the resource benefit as well. And they benefit by the mining houses paying more and appropriate tax.”

Hichilema said the increase in taxes should be proportionate to the incremental value in terms of income arising from commodity prices.

“So it’s not an optional issue, it’s only optional because there is some hesitation that the MMD government has and you must understand they are the ones who did these deals, so they are hesitant,” he said. “But the Zambians should not suffer because of that.

Appropriate taxation must be done like yesterday, so it’s really not a question of option. Also for the mining houses, they must come to the table quickly and cooperate.”

Hichilema said failure by the mining houses to cooperate with the government could result in the latter using unconventional methods.

“Failure to cooperate is inviting unorthodox ways of doing it,” he said. “As a businessman I would like a negotiated settlement that is properly done so that it does not send the wrong signal about the stability of the investment environment.”

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