Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Mulenga Chipoka has revealed that the Government is this month expected to lift the ban on the issuance of investment licenses in Zambia.
The government through the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) last November suspended the issuance of investment licenses, permits for the establishing Multi-Facility Economic Zones (MFEZs) and Industrial Parks (IPs), and Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (IPPAs).
Featuring on ZNBC TV’s Sunday Interview, Mr. Chipoka said the issuance of investment licenses in Zambia was suspended to review the document and ensure that it benefits both foreign investors and local people.
The Chingola Member of Parliament said the investment license issued by ZDA was being abused in the past by potential investors.
“I will explain why we suspended the issuance of investment licenses. That investment license is very good but apparently, we have noticed that it has been abused. Somebody can come to Zambia and say I have got $5000, 000 worth of investment, may I have this license. Before even seeing their book balance, their audited accounts, ZDA was so quick to give that license. When they are given that license, a year or two will elapse, that investor will not come to do that investment; they have gone to the country of their origin and use that as a document to solicit for funds,” Mr. Chipoka said.
“So Zambia was being used as a conduit to enhance the wealth of development for other people and bring that here. When we came into office as the New Dawn Government, if we can facilitate resource mobilization for foreign nationals through investment licenses, why can’t we come up with policies that we ourselves will start facilitating wealth generation, acquisition and access for our local people and that is what we are doing,” he said.
Mr. Chipoka expressed confidence that the revised investment license will be of great benefit to both investors and local entrepreneurs.
“On that investment license, you must understand this one. Zambia has policies where we have spoken to say land is a preserve of the Zambian people because land determines sovereignty but in the (old) vestment license there are some policies that give now access to the foreign nationals which the other policies deters them from acquiring. We want to revise certain policies in the license.”
“The investment license should be structured in such a way that when they give it is not only at the gains of the company that is coming but also of the Zambian entrepreneurs. We have given investment licenses in the past. If you are going to get the investment license you should partner with a Zambian,” Mr. Chipoka said.
He also spoke against the tendency by some foreigners to engage in small businesses that can be done by Zambians such as chicken rearing and block making.
Mr. Chipoka said the attraction of foreign investment should not be at the expense of Zambians.
“The attraction of foreign investors should not be at the expense of Zambians. So to any license that we give there should be again to a Zambian. Remember we give 100% ownership of a company to a foreign national. All the profits they make, they even sell their products outside the country, all that comes to Zambia are salaries for the people and meager salaries for that matter. So we want when we are talking about investment so some certain profits must remain in this country to build the profile of this country, to build and improve the infrastructure of this country,” he said.
Mr. Chipoka added that the Commerce, Trade and Industry sector is key to helping Zambia attain a prosperous middle-income status by 2030.