ALLOW me to express my views on what I have observed and seen to be a silent killer of the foot & clothing industry and SME growth in Zambia.
The foot and clothing industry is one of the sectors which have continued to grow and continued to be a source of employment among the youth and a source of revenue for the government.
The cheap influxes of salaula products coming in our country and uncontrolled street vending have a negative impact on the foot and clothing industry. These products are in hands of informal traders who are not registered with the Tax Authority and are thereby creating unfair competition to SMEs that are conducting legal business and paying taxes to the government.
This trend has continued over the years since the time street vending was tolerated and this has led to tax evasion among SMEs, decline in SME growth, decline in job creation and this has negative repercussions in terms of talent retention and employment prospects in the sector.
The foot and clothing industry is one of the sectors with the potential to grow and contribute to the GDP growth, generate revenue for government and job creation for the young graduates.
I would like to commend the Zambia Bureau of Standards for confiscating some of these products which are below standards. The number of products coming in the country should be regulated to protect SMEs and promote growth in the sector.
My appeal to Government is to speed up the process of devising a mechanism of taxing the informal sector. They should put on board all informal traders to start paying taxes to promote equity among tax-payers.
If proper measures are put in place, this can help to expand the tax base; increase compliance and most importantly assist in the reformation of the informal sector, reduce burden of high PAYE on the formal sector and provide a strong platform for enhancing the economic and social trajectory and this will help in tackling the difficult problems in building a better Zambia.
God bless Zambia and its leadership.