Thursday, July 14, 2011

Multi Facility Economic Zones will not benefit Chinese alone - Mutati

Multi Facility Economic Zones will not benefit Chinese alone - Mutati
By Kabanda Chulu in Kitwe
Thu 14 July 2011, 14:01 CAT

INCENTIVES and investment conditions prevailing at the Chambishi Multi Facility Economic Zones are not insulated to Chinese investors alone, says Commerce minister Felix Mutati.

Last week, Johannesburg based Sino-Africa trade expert Nitesh Dullabh said if not properly handled, development of the MFEZ would result in increased resentment between the Chinese and local people because China was dictating the terms of development of the zones.

But Mutati, in an interview, said the MFEZ were open to both Chinese and Zambians and many other external investors.

“That is critical so it is not insulated to Chinese investments but global investments and if you go to see these projects in China similar to the one being put up here, you will find that these industrial parks are majority populated by people and companies from outside China. What we want is to have order in developing the country by having well planned projects that we used to have in the olden days and move away from disorder that is happening so far,” Mutati, said.

“In any development process, not everybody is going to be happy. There are those that will be unhappy but these are long-term huge investments. But I am not saying the Chinese are giving us better formulation but if you are looking at volume of investments, which is quicker with faster implementation and you think globally you can only get it from China and they have committed US $1billon and so far have invested US $900m and they will lift it up to US $1.5billion all in the MFEZ thus creating jobs and opportunities.”

He said poverty levels in Zambia required critical attention that should be addressed through employment creation.

“We need to create more and more jobs so we shouldn’t pass away any opportunity that is why we have labour laws to deal with issues like wages and conditions of services and it is not only the Chinese that are trapped in these conflicts of labour conditions but many investors including local ones,” said Mutati.

“Without necessarily reading whatever the guy (Dullabh) may have said that is his own view, but the correct view is that not only in Zambia but elsewhere in Africa, people are trying to challenge and put some brakes on poverty trends and we are looking at not only China…but whoever can bring investments, we are looking at everybody so we can’t say we cancel China in Chambishi and killing 60,000 jobs no… and when you interview people they say it doesn’t matter, ‘we are at least able to get something and buy bread’. These are issues that matter and…so it is better to bring investors in then we start discussing how we want things to be done because we can’t lift up when nothing is there.”

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