The introduction of a new mandatory levy on small and medium businesses by the Lusaka City Council (LCC) has been met with frustration from local business owners who say the move is retrogressive and harms their ability to operate in the country.
President Hakainde Hichilema’s government has given tax incentives to foreign companies in the mining and tourism sectors, yet the new health permit fee of K1,500 has been introduced without any public awareness, according to reports.
“Right now President Hichilema’s Government has unleashed Zambia Police and Council Officers in the CBD,” said Silavwe Jackson, President of the Golden Party of Zambia (GPZ).
“The New Dawn Government has unleashed Zambia Police officers and council police officers to the central business district (CBD) of Lusaka to harass small and medium businesses to pay for the health permit.”
Jackson added that the fee was “extremely unfortunate” and that President Hichilema had never given any tax incentives to small and medium indigenous businesses, suggesting the government doesn’t care about businesses for common Zambians.
Hardly two weeks ago, President Hakainde Hichilema met with a group of business persons who companies have very strong foreign monopoly capital at Statehouse with a view to ease their business operations in Zambia, but indigenous businesses are struggling in the new dawn economy, according to Jackson.
“Surely we can only surmise that President Hakainde Hichilema and his administration do not understand the economic hardships facing their own people,” Jackson said.
“If they do, then President Hichilema and Honourable Garry Nkombo simply don’t care about businesses for common Zambians.”
He added that a compassionate government must be moving towards streamlining city council levies into one to allow maximum production and expansion of local small and medium businesses.
“We call on President Hichilema and his administration to abolish the health permit if they really care for the poor people and their businesses,” Jackson said.
The GPZ has called on the government to find a solution to the levy, which they say harms the ability of local small and medium businesses to thrive.
“Local small and medium businesses should be the ones to sustain the economy, not suffocating them into closure,” Jackson said.
The Lusaka City Council and the government have not responded to the calls to abolish the health permit.