Monday, May 14, 2012
By Kombe Chimpinde in Ankara, Turkey
Mon 14 May 2012, 10:50 CAT
TURKEY'S advisor to the Prime Minister says his government will not interfere in the matter where the Zambian government has halted a business contract given to private Turkish firm, TAV, to refurbish the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport.
In an interview, Yavuz Evirgen said TAV was a private company of international acclaim but that it was up to the Zambian government whether or not to proceed on the agreement entered into with the MMD government.
"They (TAV) are operating the airport in Istanbul, in Ankara, in many other cities' international airports. They want to reconstruct and rebuild Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Zambia and run it for 50 years. It is a big project," Evirgen said. "This is happening in many countries like our own airport in Istanbul here, they (TAV) operate for a period of time and then transfer (to government) so it is very common. They build with their own money and then they operate for 50 years and then get their money and profit before they transfer the airport back to government."
He said the project's implementation in Zambia was, however, dependent on the government's policies and discretion.
"It's the preference of the state, if they want it they can do it or not but as far as I am concerned, this is what the company does, everywhere they operate as a joint venture even in Saudi Arabia. This is international practice," Evirgen said.
He said if allowed, the contract would be a viable and less costly venture, adding that public private partnership was the new way of accelerating development in many places in the world.
Evirgen also disclosed that Turkey had recorded US$120 million trade volume between the two countries mainly from exports of various goods from Zambia to Turkey.
He said his government has been in talks to map out ways in which to enhance Zambia's construction, tourism and health sectors.
"We are happy about improvement of relations with Zambia recently," he said.
"In February 2011, the milestone was the visit of the former Republican president Rupiah Banda to Turkey in 2010 to develop relations with the two countries. There is also an invitation of the new President Sata to visit (Turkey). Of course it will depend on the schedule of your government."
Evirgen also said there were plans by the government to establish a Zambian embassy in Turkey to cement relations.
"Opening of the Turkey embassy in 2011 is a sign of promising relations between the two countries. We are aware that there is also a decision by the new government to open an embassy in Turkey. We just expect the realisation of this wish by the government," said Evirgen.
"…There is a trade imbalance usually when you start so at same point we will reach a balance. So there are some other trade agreements."
Among some of the agreements signed between Turkey and the former government was on trade and economic cooperation.