PRESIDENT Lungu has called on investors to partner with Government in creating a strong and vibrant economy that will benefit the citizenry.
He has also directed the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) to stop some mining houses that have a retrogressive tendency of evading tax.
Speaking when he officially opened the 58th Coppebelt Mining, Agricultural and Commercial Show yesterday, Mr Lungu said investments should benefit not only investors but Zambians, too.
He said it is disappointing that Zambians have not reaped the anticipated benefits from the mines, and the trend has to change. Mr Lungu said Government has a mandate to build a strong and sustainable economy in order to improve the welfare of Zambians.
He said a thriving economy is good for both investors and the citizenry and, therefore, transformation of natural resources into wealth for the benefit of the Zambian people is necessary.
The show is being held under the theme ‘Maximise Development to Sustain a Strong Economy’.
“My Government has a mandate to build a strong and sustainable economy in order to improve the welfare of our people. I call upon all investors to partner with Government to create a vibrant economy that will benefit everyone.
“The theme for this year’s show is in line with my Government’s commitment to the people of Zambia. The commitment I have, and indeed that of my Government, is to build a strong and sustainable economy in order to improve the livelihoods of our people,” President Lungu said.
He said Government is aware of some mining houses that have a retrogressive tendency of evading tax through transfer-pricing schemes with their subsidiaries based in countries perceived as tax havens.
“This practice deprives the country of the needed tax revenue. I am directing the tax authorities and other Government agencies to ensure that this is curbed,” Mr Lungu said.
He said corporate entities operating in the country should endeavour to contribute to the national treasury.
He said mining will remain the mainstay of the Zambian economy even as Government diversifies into agriculture.
“My Government is enhancing the necessary policies and regulations to promote effective participation of our people in the mining supply value in order to create more wealth,” he said.
President Lungu said 17,000 hectares of land is being targeted for irrigation in Government’s quest to develop the agriculture sector.
He said the continued unpredictable rainfall requires measures that will not frustrate Government’s efforts in ensuring agriculture contributes to the acceleration of economic development.
He said Government also intends to provide farming inputs to one million small-scale farmers in the 2015/2016 farming season.
He said dip-tanks are also being constructed across the country to control livestock diseases.
“Vaccination programmes are under-way and disbursements of matching grants to farmer groups have been done in order for our small-scale farmers to invest in livestock production,” Mr Lungu said.
Show Society chairperson William Osborn called on Government to quickly address all the contentious issues with the mining companies over the revised tax regime.
He also challenged on small-scale farmers to graduate into commercial farmers if poverty levels in rural areas are to be reduced.
Earlier, Copperbelt residents gave President Lungu a thunderous welcome on arrival in Kalulushi before he proceeded to Kitwe.
President Lungu, who touched down at Kalulushi’s South Downs airstrip at 10:47 hours, was accompanied by Minister of Tourism and Arts Jean Kapata and former United Party for National Development (UPND) vice-president Richard Kapita.