GOVERNMENT’S propensity to empower foreign companies by giving them contracts to import fuel at the expense of locals was a drawback to economic development, says the Positive Action on Human Rights, Freedom and Development.
PAHRFD executive director Bright Jalila said Government should take seriously the concerns by the Zambia Union of Tanker Drivers and Allied Workers (ZUTDAW) on fuel imports.
Mr Jalila told the Daily Nation that the Zambian economy was not doing well partly because foreigners had become major players who were reaping the country’s resources by taking away investment opportunities from the local companies.
He noted that as long as Government failed to stamp its authority on various agencies were operating, the problem would never be solved as its reluctance to deal with the problem had created room for corruption.
Mr Jalila said the country would never have viable local industries because more attention was given to foreigners instead of empowering the local companies which were struggling to grow due to limited resources and investment opportunities.
“Government should take the complaints from oil transporters seriously because this issue of having foreign companies taking away the contracts to import fuel which were supposed to be given to the local businesses retard development.
“These foreign companies get the contracts, make a fortune out of them and take the money out of this country. This means that we are directly improving other countries’ foreign exchange reserves at the expense of ours and when you see the economy not doing well, these are some of the factors,” Mr. Jalila said.
He said the fight against corruption in the awarding of contracts especially in the oil sector must be stepped up because the beneficiaries of such transactions were foreigners who were aided by those in authority.
“When are we going to start empowering our local people? What justification can one have for giving contracts to foreigners when locals can do the same job? This should come to an end. This is the same problem that those in the construction industry are also complaining about,” he said.
Last week, tanker drivers went on a four-day sit-n protest to press Government to, among other things, explain why fuel import contracts were given to foreign companies when local transporters were capable of delivering the commodity in the country.