GOVERNMENT has refuted accusations that there are no inconsistencies in Government’s economic policies and all policy adjustments made previously were necessary because they were meant to protect the interests of Zambians, Minister of National Planning Lucky Mulusa has said. Mulusa has dispelled assertions that there had been inconsistencies in government policies but that insincerity on the part of some investors had compelled Government to make adjustments to certain policies to safeguard the nation.
“All the adjustments to policies should be seen as a way of trying to align things for the benefit of the people. These policy adjustments in the past were in response to the insincere conduct of some members of the business community. There is no way we can just wake up today and introduce a new law which we again change a few weeks down the line. All our actions are informed by how businesses in the country behave,” Mr. Mulusa said.
He gave an example of businesses which either closed shops or simply changed names when their tax holidays and other incentives were coming to an end so that they could avoid paying tax or being subjected to other measures. “It is these same businesses that go out on a crusade to speak ill about Government and sponsor various individuals to attack Government when they see that their evil plans have been curbed. Before we condemn Government about what we see as policy inconsistencies, we need to ask what informed Government to take such action,” he said. Mr. Mulusa was speaking at the ‘Invest in Zambia Business Forum’ organised by the Zambian High Commission in Pretoria in conjunction with the Zambia-South Africa Business Council (ZSABC). The event was held at Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg and was sponsored by Liberty. According to a statement by Zambia’s Mission in South Africa Press Secretary Nicky Shabolyo, Mr Mulusa said Zambia was realigning its economy and noted that the country was ready for business but “it should be clear to all those interested that we are not, at the same time, open to abuse.” He bemoaned the collapse of Zambia’s industrial base built over 27 years which he attributed to the privatisation exercise through which he said some unscrupulous investors came and stripped companies of their machinery and left them as warehouses to store imports. “I acknowledged the important role that South Africa plays as Zambia’s largest trade and investment partner but at the same time, I lament that for over 10 years, Zambia has only been able to capture less than 10% of total trade volumes between the two countries. What we have seen over the years is that this has not worked for us as some investors only rip, and do not plough back into the economy. What we are looking for are sustainable partnerships, and not relationships that leave our country worse off,” Mr Mulusa said. He urged ZSABC to promote Government’s agenda of fostering inclusive business models that ensured integrating local communities in the supply chains and support the growth of local industries in all sectors of the economy.