Issued by Chamber of Mines
For immediate release
Government’s recently announced Coronavirus measures
“Lacking much needed tax relief provisions”
The Zambia Chamber of Mines has urged Government to urgently engage with the sector in order to forestall the negative impact that will arise on the health of the Zambian economy if measures are not taken immediately to address the issues facing the mining sector in the midst of COVID-19.
Over three weeks ago the Chamber of mines submitted a broad three-phase economic plan to Government, to urgently manage the economic impacts arising from the pandemic. This was with a view to providing some guidance to government on the critical areas to be urgently addressed. This proposal included, firstly, immediate relief measures that could be implemented by Government in a matter of days, followed by an emergency support package for which financial support could be sought from the IMF and World Bank, and lastly, a ‘fight back’ fiscal regime to be implemented once the COVID-19 pandemic has abated and investment is needed from which to rebuild the economy.
Since then all mining industry stakeholders have been hoping that some significant stimulus measures would be instituted, as is being seen across the world.
Tax relief measures announced by the Minister of Finance on 27th March, such as the removal of the provisions of Statutory Instrument (SI) 90 and the suspension of import duties on concentrates and export duties on precious metals, were a welcome first step in the broader relief package which is needed, however even these initial measures are yet to be introduced.
In the time that has elapsed since the initial submissions and the 27th March announcements, the industry’s circumstances have become more desperate. The issues being faced at Mopani Copper Mines are but an example of this distress.
As Zambia, with other countries globally, grapples with the debilitating and public health danger of the COVID 19 virus. The mining industry in Zambia recognizes the catastrophic nature of the public health crisis as well as the untold harm this virus will wreak on the Zambian economy. Several mining companies have rushed to Government’s aid to demonstrate their solidarity with the Government and people of Zambia through various interventions. This is in recognition of the urgency and need to stand shoulder to shoulder with our host communities at this very trying time of need.
As various senior Government Officials have pointed out, COVID-19 represents a very serious public health concern, but of equal concern is the negative impact on the Zambian economy.
The Chamber of Mines considers it essential that industry and government seize control of the negative narrative that has taken on a life of its own against the mining sector. Above and beyond this joint effort, the chamber membership stands ready to support government efforts in its engagements with multilateral institutions to obtain assistance firstly in the fight against the epidemic and secondly for the support of economic recovery.