The Zambia Association of Manufacturers (ZAM) has commended the government for the efforts they are making to stimulate economic growth in an endeavor to improve livelihoods in the economy.
ZAM President Ashu Sagar stated that the 2023 National Budget placed increased focus on Agriculture, Tourism, Mining and Manufacturing, while continuing to strengthen the enablers of energy and Information and Technology (ICT), among others.
Mr Sagar noted that the Minister of Finance Situmbeko Musokotwane outlined that the manufacturing sector was critical in stimulating growth and driving value addition, and presently, the sector contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at less than 10% remains low to attain real socio-economic transformation.
“We hope to engage the government to look for other avenues to reach the 2030 Manufacturing to GDP target,” he said
“We are, therefore, elated to observe that the government will continue to promote multi-facility economic zones as one way of growing the country’s industrial and manufacturing base, going into 2023 and beyond, we would like to urge the Government to consider widening the investment incentives beyond the multi-facility economic zones (MFEZ) as Zambia is open for business and we need, as a country, to seize the opportunity and extend growth beyond the MFEZ,” he stated
And Mr Sagar further said that they are delighted to learn of the review of the Zambia Development Agency Act, as this exercise, once completed, will promote trade and investment in the country.
He further mentioned that the move to reform the FISP is welcome, as it will include support to value addition, storage and logistics and expanding it into a Comprehensive Agriculture Support Program – CASP.
“We are elated with the reform program as the initiative will now include a component of value addition and which in turn will have a greater multiplier effect,” Mr Sagar noted
Meanwhile, Mr Sagar explained that on the livestock sector, ZAM remains concerned with the outbreaks of infectious diseases such as the Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP) and African Swine Fever and in this regard, the government’s decision to enhance surveillance, prevention and control of animal diseases through establishment of an animal vaccine plant, promotion of veterinary public health and food safety, and enhancement of animal health research and diagnosis is a welcomed approach.
He mentioned that other interventions that the government will enhance include construction of bio-security infrastructure on trunk roads, and construction of bio-security infrastructure on trunk roads and completion of laboratories. In addition to this, ZAM has urged the government through Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) to expedite development of Standards for Beef, Poultry and Chicken.
“The government should also spearhead the development of national strategic plans for the livestock sector,” he said
Mr Sagar said that the initiative to develop a robust animal identification and traceability system is welcome, for this will reduce incidences of theft and whilst enhancing the country’s potential to export on the strength of meeting international standards that require the identification and traceability of livestock products from ‘’farm to fork’’.
He disclosed that ZAM has observed positive interventions in certain sub sectors of the manufacturing sector, as they are also aware of the challenges and opportunities existing in sub-sectors such as the textiles and garments sector, wood processing, beverages, metal fabrication, pharmaceuticals, leather, soap and edible oils which are critical to the growth of the manufacturing sector.
“We urge Government to, further look at the dynamics in these industries as these were among those worst-hit during the era of COVID-19 pandemic,” he disclosed
Mr Sagar noted that the government’s proposed extend to the local content allowance at the rate of 2%, for income tax purposes to encourage value addition to tomato, in addition to mango, pineapple and cassava, ZAM looks forward to this measure being extended to other sectors such as leather, leather products, textiles and garments, pharmaceuticals, and the soya beans value chains.
He added that key to this is the reduction of the import bill and the capacitation of local firms to generate more revenue domestically, this is critical to creating employment in the midst of uncertainty and securing the livelihoods of the Zambian citizenry.