Monday, June 03, 2013

'Removal of subsidies will empower rural population'
By Cynthia Phiri in Choma and Noel Iyombwa in Chingola
Mon 03 June 2013, 14:00 CAT

COMMENT - More neoliberal, trickle down garbage. Removing subsidies will 'empower the rural population through the creation of value chain clusters'. Proof? - MrK

THE Choma Business Association says the government's bold decision to remove fuel and maize subsidies will empower the rural population through the creation of value chain clusters which will in turn create job opportunities.

And a Chingola-based businessman Mumba Soko says people should not look at the governments' move to remove subsidies on maize and fuel in a political manner but rather in an economic way.

In an interview, association chairperson Evans Chisenga said with the creation of value chain clusters across the country, the monies saved from subsides would bring economic empowerment to the locals through job creation.

Chisenga said subsidies had for a long time put the rural population at a disadvantage adding that it was time for all Zambians to get a fare share from the national cake.

And Chisenga has appealed to the government through the Citizen Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) not to misdirect monies meant for the development of value chain clusters to other sectors.

He said CEEC should ensure that monies meant for a particular project were allocated to that project and not channelled to another.

"For instance, Choma has been allocated funds for the dairy, so once these monies are in, they should not be channeled to another sector, otherwise it will defeat the whole purpose," he explained.

Chisenga however noted with concern that most business people were into buying and selling of products rather than production.

He said there is need for CEEC to analyse all value chain clusters across the country to ensure that each district had a manufacturing plant of local products from within the area.

He said districts like Choma could also produce end products like yogurt and cheese among other milk products rather than just buying and selling milk.

"Once all the districts have manufacturing plants, a lot of jobs will be created and the talk of high unemployment levels in the country will be over," he said.

And Soko said for the government to remove the subsidies, it realised the benefit it would have on Zambia's economy.

He however expressed worry that the majority of Zambians especially those in rural areas did not understand the effects of subsidies on the economy adding that the government should have sensitised the mass.

Soko said those who were against the decision were dwelling on the short-term effect adding that it was a right decision and had been a long overdue.

Another businessman Ezekiel Musonda said the government should have first removed the subsidy on fuel then later on maize instead of removing them at the same time.

He also called on sensitising the people as the government did on the rebased currency.

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