The Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission- CEEC will next month begin the disbursement of empowerment funds to all provinces of the country.
This is in conformity with the directives issued by President Levy Mwanawasa and Commerce and Trade Minister Felix Mutati in March this year that the Commission should embark on disbursing funds within six weeks.
CEEC Chairman Jacob Sikazwe announced today at a press briefing that the funds accessed from the Commission will be strictly be for productive purposes and not social investments saying all applicants must be registered entities among other regulatory requirements.
He revealed that each province will be allocated an initial K10 billion from which 40 percent will be accessed by targeted citizens who include women, youths, physically disabled and people living with HIV and AIDS, saying the balance will then be accessed by all other citizens.
The CEEC Chairman explained that the remaining K60 billion will be approved within each province through a process guided by the Commission and that nay project above K50 million will be forwarded to the Commission for appraisal and approval.
Mr. Sikazwe said the commission has achieved a number of milestones with the roll out of the empowerment programmes
He cited the recently launched guideline to developing economic empowerment sector codes as another milestone achieved by the Commission in its work to empower the Zambian Citizens.
On the existing applications that the Commission received from the Youth Empowerment Fund (YEF) , the CEEC Chairman explained the applications would be referred to the provinces for appraisal and disbursement using the CEEC criteria and threshold.
Mr. Sikazwe said new applications must conform to the empowerment guidelines, among them being the need for the projects to be commercially viable and meeting CEEC criteria.
Other guidelines include compliance with all relevant laws and regulations in the particular area such as environmental impact assessment and job creation among others.
Sustainability and exit strategy development fund and good corporate governance are also among some of the guidelines demanded by CEEC on all new applications.
Mr. Sikazwe assured members of the public that the guidelines will be published in the public media in the next two weeks and will further be rolled out to all provinces and districts.
And Mr. Sikazwe stressed that improvement on the repayment culture is cardinal if the empowerment fund is to be sustained as a revolving fund.
He has since urged all those who will borrow from the fund to pay back so that other citizens benefit.
He noted that the success of the Citizens Economic Empowerment Policy depends on the support and participation of all Zambians through hard work.
Government approved seed money to the empowerment fund of about K150 billion which includes pooled funds from the various ministries and the 2008 budget allocation.
The Citizens Economic Empowerment is a broad based multifaceted programme aimed at ensuring the participation of targeted citizens in Zambia and is based on nine pillars of equity, ownership, management and control, skills development, access to finance, transformation of society and foreign direct investment among others.