THE matter surrounding the sale of Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) has continued to attract sharp criticism among various stakeholders with the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) calling for the review of the tax rebates and other fiscal incentives pertaining to the mines.
Meanwhile, opposition MMD president Nevers Mumba has condemned Vedanta Resources chairperson, Anil Argawal for his alleged revelations the company bought KCM for a song and was reaping from the mine.
JCTR media and information officer, Mwiinga Shimilimo said it was clear that Zambia is not significantly accessing a fair share of mining revenue for sustainable development from current mining activity in the country.
“As JCTR we acknowledge the challenges of revenue mobilisation for sustainable development in Zambia. It is a fact that our current development challenges require vast human and financial resources,” Ms Shimilimo said.
KCM was sold to Vedanta Resources in 2004 at a cost of US$25 million from the sale price of US$400 million. A YouTube video has been leaked allegedly showing Mr Argawal boasting that ‘KCM was bought for a song’.
She urged Government in the short-to-medium term to review the tax rebates and other fiscal incentives pertaining to the mines and undertake a comprehensive forensic audit of the mines particularly those identified as undertaking unethical business and assess whether they are paying the correct tax.
“While we concede that taxation based on net profits is the international norm, we are also alive to the fact that it has lacunas for over inflating the cost of mining operations. We therefore urge the government to consider an appropriate mineral revenue sharing mechanism that would significant contribute to sustainable development,”she said.
Ms Shimilimo said the deficiency amounts to gross negligence on the part of Government, as significant potential revenue meant for sustainable development is not accounted for from the country’s natural resource, particularly mineral endowments.
“We further appeal to government that all impending decisions and judgments regarding the mines must be premised on a sound risk management profile owing to the extreme sensitivity of the Zambian economy to mining,” she added.
The MMD president said there was also need for Government to take legal action against KCM to ensure the firm pays back the losses Zambia incurred.
“We believe that the dignity of our people should not be ridiculed by any person locally or abroad,” Dr Mumba said.
He said Government should ensure that no individual or group of individuals, corporate or otherwise manipulate the existing tax laws.
Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) is also in support of Government’s plans to recover losses incurred during the sale of KCM.
FDD spokesperson, Antonio Mwanza said in an interview that Government should also immediately re-introduce windfall tax in all mining companies.
UPND deputy spokesperson, Edwin Lifwekelo said the party wants Government to take immediate steps that would address concerns of the stakeholders, if Zambia is to get any meaningful benefits from the exploitation of the country’s mineral resources.