The Kitwe District Chamber of Commerce, Trade and Industry have urged the government to devise a strategic way of rationing power supply as opposed to importing the commodity, a move that would raise the cost of production for industries.
Speaking in an interview in Kitwe today, Kitwe Chamber of Commerce Vice President Emmanuel Mbambiko also suggested that the mining companies should start paying for electricity at a commercials rate unlike subsidized rates to compensate for the subsidy that government pays on electricity.
Yesterday Energy minister Mathew Nkhuwa said the government will hike the cost of electricity by about 75 percent to enable it to import the commodity from South Africa to cushion the current power deficit.
Mr. Nkhuwa also announced that the fuel price will also go up soon due to the recent attacks on Saudi Arabia owned oil facilities that knocked down crude oil supply.
Mr. Mbambiko said the government should do away with plans to import power and instead prioritize power supply to industries during the day and then supply the households in the evening so that industries can work normally during the day.
He noted that if the government hikes the electricity tariffs now a lot of industries will fail to continue operating as the cost of production is already high due to high fuel and electricity prices.
And Mr. Mbambiko has urged the Minister of Finance Dr. Bwalya Ng’andu to consider reducing tax on the importation of solar power materials in the 2020 national budget to promote diversification to solar energy in view of the electric power deficit.
Giving the chamber’s expectation in next year’s budget due to be presented soon, Mr. Mbambiko also urged the Finance Minister to control the spending pattern for the government especially the cabinet and the security wings.
He said the spending figures should be reduced so that more money is channeled to critical areas such as health and education.
He, however, noted that the government revenue collection base is currently eroded hence making it difficult to make revenue collection projections.
The national budget for the year 2020 is expected to be presented to parliament by Finance Minister Dr. Bwalya Ng’andu before the end of this month.