The introduction of Statutory Instrument No.32 is not meant to “kill” the mining sector or is it a form of exchange controls but is aimed at ensuring that the proceeds from the mineral resources benefits the Zambian people said VICE President Guy Scott.
Government would ensure that taxes remitted by companies were thoroughly scrutinized so that they could fully benefit the nation said Dr Scott. “Some sectors feel we are going backwards by claiming that we are introducing exchange controls but I want to tell you that we are an intelligent Government that wants to ensure that the resources are properly managed through the implementation of the SI 32,” he said. Dr Scott said while speaking during the 3rd Zambia International Mining and Energy Conference (ZIMEC) in Lusaka yesterday, it was sad that more money continued to leave the country through tax avoidance hence the need to intensify policies that would ensure transparency in the industry.
Issues globally with the on-going Group of eight nations meeting on taxation and transparency in Northern Ireland being timely as it would assist countries like Zambia find a lasting solution to the challenge. “We are very in line with this meeting and we expect that we will have increased transparency and access to offshore bank accounts,” he said. Government would continue to create an enabling environment for investors in the mining and energy industries saying the sectors were key in national economic development, Dr Scott said. He further said that investors should also ensure they ploughed back to the communities they operated in through job creation and other corporate social responsibility activities.
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“Government was not elected by the people of Zambia to extract 750,000 tonnes of copper a year but to see to it that the minerals are beneficial to the people of Zambia. If it was important, we would not allow for the extraction of minerals but we allowed it because the minerals are supposed to provide jobs, taxation and other multiplier benefits,” Dr Scott said. He said the mining industry should support local industries by buying locally produced equipment unlike the current trend where all equipment’s was imported.
“We want locally value-added content in the inputs used by the mines. We want local industries to process steel boards and other equipment used by the mines, that way more jobs will be generated from the mining industries. “It does not make sense again for local enterprises to import equipment and supply it to the mines but it is better to have foreign firms that are established in the country and are engaging local people to produce the equipment,” he said. The conferences which was held two days aimed at creating a platform for stakeholders in the energy and mining sectors to engage on issues that would enhance the mining and energy sectors.
Over 300 delegates and mining giants including Mopani copper mines Rio Tinto, First Quantum Minerals, among others was attracted by the conference organized by AME Trade in partnership with Association of Zambian Mineral Exploration Companies. The mine would continue to invest in Zambia, with the mining firm investing over US$2billion to date, Mopani Copper mines chief executive officer Danny Callow said. “Mopani will remain a committed partner in Zambia as demonstrated through the expansion drive and infrastructure upgrade we have embarked on,” he said.
Mr Callow said copper production was expected to increase to 1.5 million tonnes by 2016 due to expansion projects being undertaken by various mines across the country adding that the expected production capacity would only be sustainable if reliable energy and good road and railway infrastructure were enhanced. He said Government and the mining firms should continue to dialogue on various policy issues if the industry was to be fully developed.