President Michael Sata must with immediate effect recall parliament to enact laws that will protect Zambian wealth, Alliance for Development and Democracy (ADD) president Charles Milupi has said.
But Mines acting Permanent Secretary Paul Chanda says the government has reviewed certain clauses in the Mining Act which will be made law when parliament reconvenes.
In an interview Mr. Milupi said that the enactment of a new law which will ensure that government collects enough revenues from mines will bring to a stop the unnecessary borrowing the PF administration has embarked on.
Mr. Milupi observed that the failure by the PF government to take decisive actions and steps towards making the Zambian economy and resources viable would continue haunting the nation.
“I urge Mr. Sata to immediately re-call parliament so that we can come and enact legislation to re-introduce windfall tax to stop this country from further loss of revenue to foreigners and that shall make sure that we have money in the treasury for development instead of these expensive loans the country is getting on the open market at commercial rates,” said Mr. Milupi.
Commenting on the revelation by Vedanta Resources chairman Anil Agarwal that government sold him the Konkola Copper Mine at a giveaway price and was now making about US$500 million annually and an addition US$ 1billion in profits, Mr. Milupi said that the PF government was being unresponsive to the tenets of democracy.
He said that the PF should learn to listen to the opposition and other stakeholders in the governance of the country in order for them to make informed decisions.
Mr. Milupi observed that the PF have no respect for the tenets of democracy which dictates and allows various opinions in the country.
But Mr Chanda said the government was investigating and verifying information on reports that Zambia was losing its wealth through tax avoidance.
“At the moment we are trying to put together the information and confirm what he said and the public will be informed. Mining taxes is a problem for almost all African countries and as Zambia, we are doing our best and what we have started with is that we have reviewed the Mining Act and its now at a bill stage,” Mr Chanda said.
He said the government was trying its best to ensure the country’s wealth was not stolen.
“As soon as parliament starts sitting, they will pass it as we have reviewed certain clauses which will ensure that this country does benefit from its resources, so, we are trying our best,” Mr Chanda said.
On Mineral royalty tax, he said the country’s tax was still at six percent and comparatively better than countries like Congo DR which were at three percent.
He said there was need to discuss with the mining firms in order to get better taxes from the sector.
“We need to discuss with the mining companies, all stakeholders in this area and negotiate so that we don’t strangle the mines themselves and at the same time you don’t deprive the government which needs resources,” Mr Chanda said. “We are making headways and soon we will bedone with these things, law and negotiations and any other issues involving the mines.”
He said it was worrying that Zambia lagged behind while countries like Chile had developed using their copper.
“We are working with all stakeholders, Ministry of Finance, ZRA and my ministry. We have come up with a committee,” said Mr Chanda “We are charging certain people who are trying to cheat. Chile and Peru have developed just from copper while we still lag behind. So we are trying to duplicate the same policies they have there.”