FINANCE Minister Felix Mutati has blamed unnecessary bureaucracy and inertia by officials in his ministry in coming up with initiatives aimed at collecting money on behalf of Government as reasons why the country was losing a lot of revenue.
Speaking when he toured the Kasumbalesa border post yesterday, Mr. Mutati said there was no justification in institutions such as the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) to continue lamenting over lack of funds when it could have initiated the installation of toll-gates in all border towns to get more revenue for the country from vehicles entering and leaving the country.
He said while Kasumbalesa border post was raking in over US $1 million in a month through toll-gate charges, other border posts such as Chirundu and Nakonde had failed to bring in any revenue through the same service because ZRA had failed to seize the opportunity to broaden its revenue base by coming up with such facilities.
“Here we have tolling but we have not taken it to Chirundu, Nakonde and Mwami and we have taken a decision as Zambians that we don’t need the money and I am told all it requires is for the Ministry of Finance to sign an SI which could be done in half a day. If we are tolling and collecting a million dollars here in Kasumbalesa, can you imagine how much we can collect in Chirundu and Nakonde?
“All I am saying is that some decisions and problems we create them ourselves and so when we say we don’t have money, it is because we are reluctant to do even the basics of bureaucracy and so, Commissioner General working with my colleagues at the ministry, let us have that done,” Mr. Mutati said.
He said there was more money circulating outside the banking system which the country had failed to collect due to reluctance to conduct transaction in dollars in border towns, adding that there was need to revisit the state of affairs so that the country could benefit.
“Our bottleneck in terms of trade between Zambia and Congo D.R is that within the banking system, we are reluctant to accept transactions using dollars but I am sure we have the powers within the necessary legislation to allow those transactions for the border areas that will give us the dollars that will circulate in the economy that will impact on the exchange rate. All it requires is to read the necessary portions of the Banking Act and since it benefits us, we shall interpret it to mean that we can do it and if it doesn’t, then we have to amend it to benefit us,” he said.
He said the country had K 6.5 billion that was circulating outside the banking system and that there was need for Zambians to begin capturing the money outside the system, adding that there was more money in the system which impacted on inflation rates.