Saturday, December 15, 2007

PSD-RP should reduce cost of doing business, says Mutati

PSD-RP should reduce cost of doing business, says Mutati
By Joan Chirwa in Chisamba
Saturday December 15, 2007 [03:00]

GOVERNMENT and the private sector must move away from mere talk and work towards implementation of programmes, commerce minister Felix Mutati has said. And Mutati said reducing the cost of doing business and the transformation of Zambians should be the main goal of the Private Sector Development Reform Programme (PSD-RP). Meanwhile, Mutati has announced that the government would mid next year commission the Pan African Bank on the local market.

In his keynote address to the PSD-RP mid-term review conference in Chisamba on Thursday, Mutati said the people of Zambia were tired of rhetoric and were hungry for results from projects being undertaken in the country.

Mutati said the effective implementation of the programmes under PSD could only be done if stakeholders stayed away from conversational reforms.

“We must abandon this system of capacity building because we have been doing this since 1964. We are just going round and round having the same conversations we have had in the past instead of getting down to real business and implementing programmes,” Mutati said.

He also said the current work of the PSD-RP should focus on reducing the cost of doing business in the country while transforming the lives of entrepreneurs.

“We need to transform into output. We must ensure that at the end of the PSD-RP, the cost of doing business will be reduced and the lives of Zambians will be transformed,” he said.

Mutati further said the government had set a number of targets for next year, among them the opening of the Pan African Bank in the country.

He said the government expected to double its investments at the end of next year from US$1.4 billion to over US$3 billion as a result of the targeted huge investments coming into the country in 2008.

“We are targeting to double the amount of investments to US$3 billion in 2008,” Mutati said. “In January next year, we will have five major projects that we will sign off. Among them are the Kafue Smelter, we will sign off a new cement manufacturing factory, a transformer and electricity metre manufacturing factory. The other one is the Pan African Bank which will be coming in Zambia in April next year.”

Mutati said the expected investments on the local market are likely to increase the number of job opportunities in the country.

“We are hoping to create at least 100,000 new jobs as a minimum target through these investments expected next year,” Mutati said.

He further said the private sector must partner with the government to develop certain areas that could assist in reducing the cost of doing business.

“Infrastructure is one key area that needs attention. Why can’t the private sector work with the government in identifying key infrastructure that needs to be worked on such as roads?” Mutati asked. “Infrastructure remains key to the growth of businesses in any country. We need to reduce transportation costs by working on our roads. We also need to manage pillars that support private sector growth such as inflation levels, foreign exchange rate and the cost of money.”

The PSD-RP was endorsed in 2004 with its primary objectives of achieving significant reduction in the cost of doing business while making it easy for people to start growing their businesses.

There is only a year remaining before the programme winds up, and donor agencies have expressed concern at the slow implementation of the project.

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