THE Government may consider reconstituting the technical committee of experts appointed to draft a new Constitution to include stakeholders not represented such as the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ),Vice-President Guy Scott has said.
Dr Scott told Parliament that the Patriotic Front Government (PF) was listening to the calls of the people on the composition of the committee of experts to draft the Constitution.The vice-president said this in response to a question by Mpika Member of Parliament (MP) Mwansa Kapeya (PF) who wanted the Government to shed light on the views being expressed by Zambians on the composition of the committee.
This was during the vice-president’s 30-minute question time in the House.“Stakeholders who are not represented such as the EFZ may beconsidered,” Dr Scott said.
The EFZ has since written to Justice Minister Sebastian Zulu nominating their representative to the committee of experts. Kalomo MP Request Muntanga (UPND) asked for an assurance that the people left out of the committee of experts to draft the Constitution would not boycott the exercise, to which Dr Scott said he could not guarantee so.
The vice-president said, however, that those that would boycott would have to be blamed for their actions.Nalikwanda MP Geoffrey Lungwangwa (MMD) asked Dr Scott to tell the House which contractor had been engaged to renovate State House, to which the vice-president said a comprehensive statement would be issued over the matter by the minister of Works.
And Liuwa MP Situmbeko Musokotwane and his Lunte counterpart Felix Mutati (MMD) lauded the 2012 National Budget and commended the PF Government for acknowledging the firm macro-economic foundation laid by the MMD regime.Contributing to the estimates of expenditure for 2012, Dr Musokotwane congratulated the PF Government for increasing the mineral royalty tax to six per cent from three per cent as well as increasing allocations to the education, health and agriculture sectors in the 2012 Budget.
“It is not debatable that in the last decade, the economy has grown while jobs have been created. More food has been produced. In the 2012 Budget, I notice that the Minister of Finance and National Planning Alexander Chikwanda will spend more compared to 2011.“
”In the education sector, the minister proposes to spend K900 billionmore, another K900 billion more will be spent in the health sector while K400 billion more will be spent in the agriculture sector while bulk other amounts will go towards infrastructure, which is commendable,” Dr Musokotwane said.He said the MMD government could have done the same by increasing expenditures in the agriculture, education, health and infrastructure sectors.Mr Mutati on the other hand hailed the PF Government for increasing the mineral royalty tax to six per cent.He said the PF Government should build on the economic growth left by the MMD government to find more money to spend on the social sector.“The tax relief of K2 million is a welcome move as it will benefit all taxpayers.
The royalty tax increase is also good,” Mr Mutati, also leader of the opposition in the House, said in his debate to Parliament on the 2012 Budget.He said the MMD government did re-energise the national economy to the best of its knowledge and what the PF should do was to build on the weaknesses for the good of Zambia.?Mines Minister Wylbur Simuusa in his debate told the House that the PF Government did not promise to reintroduce the windfall tax as it was being alleged but it promised to harmonise the tax regime in the mining industry so that Zambians could reap more benefits from their national resources.
Mr Simuusa said the Government was already addressing the taxing system andt the increase of the royalty tax to six per cent from three was a step in that direction.He said the PF, then in opposition, and their counterparts advocated for the re-introduction of the windfall tax owing to the high consistent price of copper at the international market.
“At that time Mr Speaker, copper prices were pegged at U$10,000 for a long period of time and that was why we advocated for the re-introduction of the windfall tax, the then MMD government should have been responsive to the then prevailing situation,” Mr Simuusa said.
He said even the Chamber of Mines of Zambia had stated that it was not against the reintroduction of the windfall tax but the way the MMD government implemented it.Minister of Lands, Energy and Water Minister Chris Yaluma told the House that the PF Government would continue to accelerate investments in the expansion of power generating projects.
His counterpart at Local Government Nkandu Luo said it was saddening that the so-called economic growth achieved in the last two decades did not translate into uplifting of the welfare of ordinary Zambians.Professor Luo hailed the K2 million free tax initiative of the PF Government, stressing that it would benefit especially the poor people of Zambia and not those well-off. The two ministers were contributing to the debate on the 2012 national budget.