US impressed by Zambia’s corruption fight
AMERICAN acting Ambassador to Zambia Michael Koplovsky says his Government is impressed with President Banda’s government efforts in fighting corruption, saying policies that have been put in place encourage foreign investment.
Ambassador Koplovsky said the launch of Zambia’s first Anti-corruption Policy last year and other pieces of legislation that will strengthen the Anti-Corruption Commission are clear indicators that President Banda is determined to rid the nation of corruption.
Speaking in an interview in Solwezi on Thursday, Mr Koplovsky the US government is pleased that President Banda has further committed himself to supporting the Anti-Corruption Commission and Auditor General’s office.
He said plans to enact the Public Interest Disclosure Bill (whistleblower) will bolster the fight against graft as it will provide protection for individuals who will report corrupt activities.
“Besides the country being peaceful and stable, these initiatives will help make Zambia one of the best countries on the continent that encourage foreign investment,” Mr Koplovsky said.
He said the US government has also helped the Patents and Companies Registration Office reduce the number of days it takes to register a company.
He said for foreign investors to come to Zambia, the tax regime must be predictable and companies must have access to finance.
He cited the Doing Business Report by the World Bank as one barometer that shows that the country is making tremendous efforts in attracting foreign investments.
The American Ambassador said his country was working with the Zambian government in putting policies that would attract investment.
Mr Koplovsky, who was on a tour of American-funded projects in the North-Western Province, said the United States is further pleased by Government’s decision to set up a secretariat for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
He said this will help create a global standard for revenue transparency in the extractive industries.
Mr Koplovsky said through the implementation of the EITI, Zambia will bring together companies, civil society and government representatives to monitor and account for payments being made to governments by extractive companies operating in their country.
He said countries that have met all of the reporting and operational indicators set out under the EITI guidelines have achieved a greater level of transparency.
Mr Koplovsky, who also visited Lumwana mine, said he is impressed with the firm’s excellent corporate citizenship.
He said if there were similar investments in other parts of the country the economy would grow.
He said investments in the mining industry have a multiplier effect and would see other sectors benefitting.
Mr Koplovsky further said there is need to respect development agreements that were entered into with mining companies when they came to invest in Zambia if the country is to retain more foreign investment.
Mr Koplovsky said Zambia should respect the development agreements it made with mining investors as the country explores the possibility of re-introducing the windfall taxes regime and other impositions.
“If the country goes ahead and imposes the windfall taxes regime, it will send wrong signals to other investors who are beginning to have interest in investing in this country,” Mr Koplovsky warned.
He said although he supports proper taxation of extractive industries, it is important that any changes on taxation to the mining industries be done in full consultation with the investors.
Last year, President Banda launched the National Anti-Corruption Policy, which is Zambia’s first anti-corruption policy.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Act is also being revised to incorporate good governance practices contained in the international anti-corruption instruments to which Zambia is a signatory.
To further strengthen the ACC, the government has disbanded the Task Force on Corruption.
President Banda also announced that a serious frauds unit will be established under the strengthened Anti-Corruption Commission to specifically investigate complex corruption cases.
[Zambia Daily Mail]