Cabinet has approved in principle the introduction of a Bill in Parliament to amend the National Pension Scheme Act No 40 of 1996 so as to provide members of the Scheme an option to access part of the contributions before retirement.
Chief government spokesperson Chushi Kasanda in a Cabinet statement obtained by ZANIS this evening revealed that President Hakainde Hichilema has made a policy pronouncement on the need for partial access to pension contributions to members of the National Pension Scheme.
“The New Dawn Government has made a policy pronouncement on the need for a partial access to pension contributions to members of the National Pension Scheme through The President’s inaugural address to Parliament, the UPND Manifesto (2021-2026); and the 2022 Budget Speech, combined, as some of the policy documents that have pronounced the introduction of partial pension benefits, ” she adds in the same statement.
The Chief Government Spokesperson indicated in the statement that the current form of the National Pension Scheme Act No. 40 of 1996 it does not allow for the implementation of the policy pronouncement on partial access to pension contributions to members of the National Pension Scheme.
“However, the National Pension Scheme Act No. 40 of 1996 in its current form, does not allow for the implementation of the policy pronouncement on partial access to pension contributions to members of the National Pension Scheme. Therefore, to implement this policy pronouncement, it is necessary for the National Pension Scheme Act No. 40 of 1996 to be amended,” read the statement in parts.
The Minister said Cabinet is convinced that the policy initiated by government will allow employees to start planning early for retirement.
Apart from the legislative matters attended to during the Meeting, Cabinet also approved the Mineral Resources Development Policy and its Implementation
Plan 2022 – 2026.
This is after Cabinet realised that the Mineral Resources Development Policy of 2013 is inadequate in dealing with the many new issues taking place both locally and internationally in the mining industry.
“Therefore, there is need to address these new challenges that have emerged in the industry such as low investment in mineral exploration and mining; low participation of Zambians in the mineral value chain; inadequate growth coupled with the informality of the artisanal and small-scale mining sub sector; and to operationalize the new Government ambitions to ramp up Copper production to 3 million metric tons per annum by 2031, ” reads the statement in part.
During the same meeting, Cabinet approved some recommendations from the 2022 findings of the Mining Cadastre Audit Report.
These include, re-opening the Mining Cadastre Department following the completion of the audit exercise; floating of the bids for the blocked mining rights to companies which are wholly or partly owned by Zambians; restricting the number of mining rights an entity or company or related companies should have to only five; ensuring that foreign entities wishing to acquire mining rights, partner with Zambians or companies owned by Zambians; and utilisation of ICT in the conduct of business to avoid human interaction.
“Cabinet further agreed to address the issues which have compromised the issuance and management of Mining Rights; make decisive measures to unlock investment in the mining industry; and enhance efficiency, transparency and accountability in the administration of mining rights.”
In a related development, Cabinet also approved the Integrated Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining and Marketing Development Model which will be used to develop the Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining sub-sector.
And identification or appointment of a government entity as the Gold Aggregator; establishment and formalisation of the gold marketing centres.
The new developed model will see State Security being provided in all gold mining areas with a view to improve security in trading areas for gold miners and traders.
“The establishment of a Gold Refinery and value addition centres through Private Public Partnerships (PPPs); establishment and operationalisation of the Minerals Regulatory Commission; and provision of State Security in all gold mining areas and improve security in trading areas for gold miners and traders.”
Cabinet has recognised that there has been a proliferation of informal artisanal gold mining activities in many parts of the country involving multitudes of youths.
“Therefore, this in itself is testimony that, if well-managed, the sub-sector has the potential to absorb many youths in the much-needed job and wealth generation activities. Considering that these youths are attached to families, Cabinet is convinced that artisanal gold mining is one avenue through which the Government can use to fight extreme poverty, especially in the rural areas and consequently, lead to development in line with the Eighth National Development Plan, ” reads the statement.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet has approved the Fourth Cycle National Report on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
The approval is meant to facilitate the submitting of the report to the Human Rights Council as per the Human Rights Council resolution 16/21 adopted on 25 March, 2011, and decision 17/119 pertaining to the review of the Council.
The second and subsequent cycles, which provide that Universal Periodic Review (UPR) should focus on, among other things, the implementation of the accepted recommendations and developments of the human rights situations in the State under review.
Chief government spokesperson Chushi Kasanda explains in a statement obtained by ZANIS this evenning that every UN Member State is required to prepare and submit a Fourth Cycle National Report on the Universal Periodic Review.
Zambia, being a UN Member State, is among the group of States to be reviewed by the Universal Periodic Review Working Group during the January-February, 2023 Calendar reviews.
Ms Kasanda stated that the policies and legislative matters deliberated on during Cabinet meeting were aimed at improving service delivery to the people of Zambia based on the ruling Party Manifesto and in accordance with the transformation Agenda for government going forward.