The Non Governmental Organisations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) has asked Government to introduce production based Mineral Royalty Taxes that are commensurate with what the mining companies are making out of the minerals if Zambians, especially the poor are to benefit adequately. In its Tax and Non-Tax proposals to the Ministry of Finance, NGOCC observed that the current Mine Tax obligations were far below the expected contributions to the economy for them to substantially contribute to economic growth and job creation
“A Mineral Royalty Tax is charged on production and this means that the mines will pay the royalties as long as they produce regardless of the copper price. Therefore, a mineral royalty is a better way of taxing the mines. This will result in increased government revenue for poverty reduction programmes, investment and national development, reads the submission in part.
NGOCC has further urged the Government to intensify and broaden withholding tax collection by coming up with effective collection measures to ensure that service providers pay the taxes in full, e.g., collection of rental tax on high value properties. In this regard, the process of operationalising the Integrated Land Management System needs adequate capacitating and resources in order to enable Ministry of Lands to capture all land owners. The organisation observed that there was a marked increase of property being rented out yet not all tax is remitted to ZRA.
“There is also an increased number of consultants who should be captured in the tax net. In addition there is need for ZRA to work out mechanisms of identifying and capturing all tax obligations from consultancy jobs through working out mechanisms with PACRA or other registration mechanisms on various consultancy work,” reads the submission in part.
Meanwhile NGOCC has proposed an increment in the tax-free threshold from K3, 000 to K4, 000. NGOCC observes that the high cost of living – the food basket for a family of 6 has increased to K3,831.24 (JCTR August 2015). The submission further reads “the situation is expected to continue in 2016 due to among other factors the increased prices of fuel. In addition government should consider Zero Rating sanitary wear and essential food items as outlined in the JCTR basic needs basket. NGOCC has also proposed increased allocation of resources to the Ministry of Gender being the spearheading ministry.Focus should also be on other gender implementing institutions to effectively mainstream gender in development policies, plans and programmes and facilitate attainment of the national vision on gender through the National Gender Policy
NGOCC has also proposed the need for sufficient mobilization of resources for the National Referendum on the adoption of the constitution through a wider forum as proposed by Zambians in all the successive Constitutional Review Commissions. This should be prioritised outside the Tripartite Elections of 2016.
And the Civil Society for Scaling Up Nutrition (CSO-SUN), has expressed fear that the budget may not entirely address the immediate economic challenges the country was facing if it would not give attention to matters relating to nutrition.
CSO-SUN executive director William Chilufya said in a statement yesterday that Zambia was currently grappling with a double burden of malnutrition.
Mr Chilufya appealed to Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda to ensure that he drew people’s attention to the importance of good nutrition through the budget speech.
“A simple statement by the Ministry of Finance on nutrition during the annual budget speech will help keep it on the table as an issue of national importance demanding the required attention and response to it by respective line ministries in the execution of the budget for the financial year,” he said.
Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda today presents the 2016 national budget