TIME has come for the mines to reciprocate Government’s generosity by supporting growth of the economy and stop giving excuses during these difficult times of power outages, says Private Sector and Development Association (PSDA) chairperson Yusuf Dodia.
Mr Dodia observed in an interview that Government was not receiving enough support from the mining sector in building the economy which was currently facing many challenges.
“I think the Government has been more than generous to the mining sector to the extent that we expected the sector to also reciprocate by supporting the growth of the economy even during these difficult times when electricity is a challenge,” he said.
He added that Government had introduced attractive mine incentives which any investor would be very happy to associate with.
Me Dodia explained that Government reduced mining tax from 20 percent to 6 percent and had promised to pay back the Value Added Tax arrears adding; “But all this effort by Government is not resulting in support from the mining companies in terms of building the economy.”
He said mining companies, being drivers of the economy, were given enough electricity to continue with their operations even when many Zambians households and companies were seriously affected by load shedding.
“Instead of these incentives benefiting the country, they are being used to undermine the growth of the Zambian economy because what we are seeing is that the mining companies with all these incentives are beginning to choke the economy by threatening to lay off workers and lower production,” he said.
He said it appeared that the attitude of the mining companies was only to grab the investment to the extent where they undermined the global economy.
Mr Dodia believed that the attitude of the mines had shown that the sector was not what people called all weather development partners because they became selfish during difficult times.
“Government has reached the crossroads to evaluate its relationship with the mines to see what best practices can be put in place to ensure that resources from mines are channeled to building the economy.
“At the same time it is important for the Government to have optional partners willing to take over some of the mining investments that the current mines are failing to run successfully,” he said.
He said the Government had done its part and that it was time for the mines to also put investment in a more long term perspective by ensuring that Zambia survived the difficult time of load shedding.
“I think we can find other partners. There are other mining partners from Brazil and Chile that have not yet invested in Zambia and these should be ready to take over some of the mining investment whose owners Government may feel are not good enough partner to work with in developing the economy,” he said.
Mr Dodia however observed that there was need to recognise that the relationship between the mining companies and the Government was not very conducive and needed to be worked on through consultations.