Monday, December 24, 2007

Zambia’s ‘economic boom’ has been exaggerated, says Kabwe

Zambia’s ‘economic boom’ has been exaggerated, says Kabwe
By Chibaula Silwamba
Monday December 24, 2007 [03:00]

UNIVERSITY of Zambia (UNZA) development studies lecturer Tiyaonse Kabwe has said Zambia’s ‘economic boom’ has been exaggerated. And Kabwe has said that investors should be compelled to employ Zambians at managerial level. In an interview in Lusaka, Kabwe said there had not been much investment in the country to his expectations as it was being portrayed.

“You would say there is boom if these companies have been paying adequate corporate tax because these taxes would in turn ease the suffering of the people. But if the companies are not paying the tax and even the mineral royalty is as low as 0.6 per cent, the least in the world, what economic boom are you talking about?” he asked. “These companies are even playing tricks so that they avoid taxes.

He said investors should realise that paying tax is part of business.

“If you are doing business you should never ever run away from paying tax. Wherever they have invested they have been paying tax so what is so special about the Zambian environment that they can insist that they should not pay tax or insist on development agreements they signed when they were buying these mines?” he asked.

“Copper is at the highest in the history of copper production in Zambia but if we cannot benefit from these high prices now, when are we going to benefit?”

He said the laws had ‘empowered’ mines to externalise 100 per cent of their profits.

“We have heard of the possibilities of opening oil mining in North Western Province but what benefit will it have on our country if we continue giving foreign companies tax exemptions and allow them to come with their own workers?” asked Kabwe.

“The conditions for production of oil should be different from those of copper if Zambians are to benefit.”

He observed that many people were complaining. And Kabwe urged foreign investors to sponsor their employees to universities to further their academic qualifications.

“ZCCM was involved in the provision of medical facilities, education, recreation facilities and several others but are the companies that have come doing that?” Kabwe asked. “The answer is no!

They are not involved in education, they are not training our people. Mines were sponsoring Zambian students to come and train at the university so that they can go back as competent managers but that is not happening now.”

He further said Zambia had many experts that could be employed in top managerial positions, hence the need for expatriates in most positions.

“We must compel investors to employ Zambians at managerial level and train Zambian labour wherever necessary,” Kabwe said. “The top jobs are being taken by the company owners; the companies are coming with their own top management staff and Chinese investment is even coming with labourers, which is most unfortunate.”

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