President Levy Mwanawasa today held private bilateral talks with World Bank president Robert Zoellick, which mainly focussed on the economic development of Zambia.
The talks that lasted about 45 minutes starting at 11:00 hours Zambian time, were held at the United Nations Economic Commission Conference Centre here in Addis Ababa at the ongoing African Union Heads of States and Government Summit, which officially convened yesterday.
Briefing ZANIS shortly after the meeting between President Mwanawasa and the World Bank head, Commerce Minister Felix Mutati said the meeting was held to look at the performance of Zambia’s priority economic sectors, among them, agriculture, infrastructure development and mining.
Mr Mutati said during the talks, Dr Mwanawasa stressed the need for sustainable support to Zambia following the floods that have affected the country for the past two years destroying infrastructure such as roads, bridges and schools.
He pointed out that the floods have had severe impact on Zambia and made a request to the World Bank Chief, who has promised to first assess the situation on the ground before any assistance is sought for Zambia.
The President also discussed on how the drainage system in the country could be addressed.
In addition, the World Bank also wanted to know about Zambia’s mining tax regime, to which President Mwanawasa explained that the mining sector was key to Zambia’s economic development and that it was imperative for the sector to contribute a fair share to the economy particularly to infrastructure development like roads.
The President told the World Bank Chief that Government’s action to revise the mining tax regime was in response to public outcry that Zambians were not getting a fair share of revenue from the mining sector.
During the official ceremonial opening of the National Assembly two weeks ago, President Mwanawasa in his speech announced that Government had put in place measures aimed at revising the mine tax which put Zambia in the lowest position among copper producing countries in the world.
He, however, said the mining regime, once effected, would earn the country in excess of US$400 million revenue. This means that the tax would now be at 47 percent pushing the country in to the middle position among copper producers.
During the meeting, Dr Mwanawasa also highlighted the agriculture sector as equally a key sector to Zambia’s economic development.
Shortly after the meeting, President Mwanawasa went into a closed session of the ongoing AU Summit on United Nations (UN) Reforms Committee.
Zambia and Namibia are members of the UN reforms 10 -member Committee representing the Southern African countries. The African Union comprises five regions including North, West, Central and East Africa.
During official opening of the 10th AU Summit yesterday, outgoing AU Commission Chairperson Professor Alpha Oumar Konare told the high level meeting that Africa had only one seat in the UN Security Council and appealed to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to help adress the situation.