Lusaka, Tuesday, 3rdFebruary 2015—His Excellency Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambiahas directed the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA)Commissioner-General Mr. Berlin Msiska to expedite dialogue with mine owners and promptly resolve the impasse over the new mining tax regime.
President Lungu issued the directive after he addressed a special session of Cabinet to consider the impasse over the new mining tax regime and the outstanding VAT refunds for mining companies.
The President said he wants an amicable settlement that must end in a win-win outcome for both the mining companies and the people of Zambia.
On the VAT the status of the VAT refunds, the ZRA Commissioner-General and the Minister of Finance Hon. Alexander Chikwanda reported that a statutory instrument to regulate the payment of refunds would be ready in a matter of days to deal with future payments.
The Head of State has directed that in the light of the existing legal dilemma regarding claims that have already been submitted, new negotiations must therefore be opened to address mechanisms under which any payment would be settled.
“I want to see increased dialogue and increased flow of information that infact we have been talking to the mine owners over these matters. We have to make this clear so that we can forestall the falsehoods that some people are peddling to poison public perception regarding this matter. The ultimate aim is to protect jobs and keep mines profitable at the same time. We must also maintainthe country’s right to collect due taxes,” the President said.
The special session of Cabinet comprised Her Honour the Vice-President Mrs Inonge Wina, Hon. Chikwanda,Minister of Justice Hon. Dr Ngosa Simbyakula and Minister of Commerce Trade & Industry, Hon. Margaret Mwanakatwe. The Minister of Mines will join this committee of ministers tasked to tackle the mines tax impasse. The ZRA Commissioner-General, Secretary to the Treasury Mr Fredson Yamba and Ministry of Finance Permanent Secretary Mr. Felix Nkulukusa were in attendance.
The Minister of Finance emphasised that government was actively engaged in dialogue with the mines and there is therefore no cause for panic and blackmail from any quarters. “This matter is under discussion and I will be addressing the issue at various fora this week when I visit some mines on the Copperbelt this week,” he said.
Meanwhile, President Lungu has reverted Dr. Bwalya Ng’andu to the Bank of Zambia as Deputy Government-Operations. Dr Ng’andu has been on secondment to the civil service as Permanent Secretary for Mchinga Province.
“In January last year, you were reassigned to Government as Permanent Secretary. Just as at Bank of Zambia, you have of Deputy of Governor (Operations). This is a critical position especially at a time when we face intractable challenges in both the domestic and global economies. There is a compelling need to use monetary policy to stimulate the economy and it cannot be business as usual,” the President says in a letter to Dr Ng’andu.
“Our government’s proclaimed intention is to lower the interest rates in order for small businesses to access bank facilities has proved futile because the Central Bank has persistently been tightening even when the economic fundamentals suggested the opposite. It is my sincere hope that you will reinforce the Governor and initiate meaningful dialogue with commercial banks to close some avoidable loopholes that induce injurious outflows of our meagre foreign exchange.”
SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT
(PRESS &PUBLIC RELATIONS)