LAST Monday President Hakainde Hichilema called for the eighth Cabinet meeting this year at State House to deliberate on policy and legislative matters. During the meeting, Cabinet made the following decisions: Establishment of the SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre (SHOC) Cabinet approved that Zambia should sign the Inter-Government memorandum of agreement by Southern African Development Community (SADC) member States on the establishment of a SHOC to be based in Nacala, Mozambique. SADC member States have a shared responsibility to realise the objectives in Article 5 of the Treaty of SADC which, among others, seeks to achieve sustainable development by strengthening disaster risk coordination in preparedness and response for enhanced disaster risk management. Therefore, Cabinet decided that this shared obligation by SADC countries needs to be supported through signing the agreement on establishment of the SHOC.
National Policy on Development Cooperation Cabinet approved the National Policy on Development Cooperation and its implementation plan to provide guidance in mobilisation, management, and utilisation of domestic resources, as well as external development assistance for promotion of effective and sustainable development. Through this policy, Government intends to leverage development assistance to, inter alia, address capacity development priorities, strengthen systems, and domestic capacity to raise increased revenue, create an enabling environment for growth of trade and investments, and ensure greater accountability to citizens. Dissolution of Bangweulu and Mweru Water Transport boards Cabinet approved the dissolution of the Bangweulu Water Transport and Mweru Water Transport boards; transfer of equipment (boats) from the boards to ZAMPOST; and transfer of Mweru and Bangweulu harbours and infrastructure to local authorities to manage.
The Bangweulu and Mweru Water Transport boards were formed 1958 and 1972 respectively, to provide water transport services to people living in lakes Bangweulu and Mweru regions. The impact of the decision by Cabinet to dissolve the two boards is expected to enhance water transport service delivery in these areas. It is also expected to close revenue losses arising from inefficient operations, enhance water transport regulation of the entire sector and also as a way of devolving the management of such facilities to local authorities as part of implementation of the decentralisation policy which was launched in Chongwe on last Tuesday. Ratification of Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi Development Corridor (WBNLDC) agreement
Cabinet also approved the ratification of the WBNLDC agreement amongst Namibia, Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The WBNLDC is a multi-modal transport and logistics infrastructure network within and through Namibia, Zambia, and DRC. Its development is critical to enhancing regional and international trade competitiveness, particularly for landlocked countries of Zambia and DRC. The WBNLDC agreement was adopted and signed on March 5, 2010 by the council of ministers for transport in contracting parties, in Livingstone. Zambia signed the Charter on March 5, 2010 but is yet to ratify it.
The DRC ratified the agreement in 2015 and Namibia ratified it in 2021. The agreement is not yet in force as it requires ratification by all member States party to it, Zambia inclusive, for it to enter into force, hence the approval by Cabinet. Legislation matters During the meeting, Cabinet also deliberated on legislative matters as follows: (a) The Customs and Excise (Suspension) (Construction Materials) (Public-Private Partnership) Regulations, 2023. Cabinet approved the issuance of a statutory instrument (SI) to suspend customs and excise duties charged on importation of construction materials under the public private partnership (PPP) projects to attract more investment in PPP projects and reduce government expenditure on capital projects such as roads construction. The decision is in line with provisions in the 2023 budget which has introduced tax incentives aimed at encouraging investment in PPP infrastructure projects. The tax incentives include reduced income tax rate, value added tax, and customs duty exemption on plant, machinery and equipment. (b) Amendment of the Cotton Act No. 21 of 2005. Cabinet approved in principle, to introduce a Bill in Parliament to amend the Cotton Act of 2005 to enhance regulation of the cotton industry, broaden the mandate of the Cotton Board of Zambia (CBZ) and address existing gaps in the current law and introduce sufficient provisions for regulation of the entire cotton value chain in line with international best practices.
The 2005 Act also established CBZ to regulate production, ginning and marketing of seed cotton, set standards relating to the quality of the cotton crop in the field, seed cotton, cotton seed and lint. The CBZ is also responsible for advising Government on regulations, policies and measures pertaining to the protection, control, promotion, and development of the cotton industry.
(c) Repeal of the Agriculture (Fertiliser and Feed) Act No. 51 of 1966. Cabinet also approved in principle, to introduce a Bill in Parliament to repeal the Agriculture (Fertiliser and Feed) Act No. 51 of 1966 (Cap 266) to address gaps in the current law and provide for development of new regulations aimed at enhancing the management of the fertiliser industry in Zambia.
At the time of enactment of the current law, the fertiliser industry was State-owned and run. However, following the liberalisation of the economy in 1991, a number of private sector and non-State actors have joined the industry. The multiplicity of players in the fertiliser sector coupled with technological advances has, brought about a variety of fertiliser types that were not available when the law was passed. It is envisaged, therefore, that the new Act will result in increased private sector participation in the fertiliser supply chain across the country and make Zambia a fertiliser producer and supplier within the region and beyond. (d) Local Authorities Superannuation Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2023. Another legislative matter approved by Cabinet in principle is the introduction of a Bill in Parliament to amend the Local Authorities Superannuation Fund (Amendment) Act No. 8 of 2015 to provide for retirement of employees of local and associated authorities at the ages of 60 and 65. The amendment undertaken in 2015 introduced normal retirement at the age of 60, early retirement at the age 55, and late retirement at the age of 65. However, the Amendment Act did not include amendment to the schedules in the Act, which required actuarial input to determine the commutation factors applicable from age 55 to age 65. Once the factors are enacted into law, the Local Authorities Superannuation Fund will be able to compute benefits for any member that retires at the age of 60 or 65. This is an excerpt from a statement by the Acting Minister of Information and Media and Minister of Fisheries and Livestock.