CHIMWEMWE MWALE, Lusaka
PATRIOTIC Front (PF) deputy secretary-general Mumbi Phiri says President Lungu has laid a monumental vision to transform Zambia and place it as a regional and continental economic hub towards the year 2064.
Mrs Phiri said the PF administration has committed its unflinching dedication to the vision of the head of State and appealed to Zambians and other stakeholders to support the endeavour.
Reflecting on the fourth anniversary of the PF in office, Mrs Phiri also urged stakeholders to heed a clarion call by President Lungu for accelerated diversification of commodities for export to reduce dependency on copper.
She said, in a statement, that President Lungu has also realigned public procurement to stop the importation of goods which can be manufactured locally to avoid dollar expenditure.
Mrs Phiri also explained that President Lunguâ€™s directive that the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) must take charge of public parastatals is aimed at floating shares on the stock exchange to raise revenue and help control currency volatility.
She said President Lungu has also urged policy consistency in the mining sector resulting in the realigning of the mineral royalty tax and that he has also been visiting mines to assure them that Zambia remains the best investment destination.
â€œThis direction by the President is underpinned by a framework that is coherent, viable and has received widespread support. This is a Zambia we owe present and future generations,â€ Mrs Phiri said.
On mining, Mrs Phiri said the PF has in the past four years addressed the value added tax (VAT) issues with mining companies by directing Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) to issue a Gazette Notice to effect amendments to Rule 18 of the VAT Act.
She said this is aimed at providing for conditions of zero-rating of exports that usually place mining companies in an untenable VAT refund position.
Mrs Phiri also said the PF resolved tax disputes with mining companies when in March 2015, President Lungu directed the Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda and Minister of Mines and Minerals Development Christopher Yaluma to effect changes to the 2015 Mineral Royalty Tax by April 8, 2015.
She said the decision was made because there must be a win-win situation and that the PF has a duty to declare dividends to the Zambian people.
â€œDuring our first four years, PF is rolling out of a presidential initiative for solar milling plants to all 10 provinces. This is aimed at reducing the price of mealie-meal and making it affordable to the majority of Zambians. This is a gigantic and unprecedented step in assuring and ensuring food security, especially in rural Zambia.
â€œGovernment has also increased the price of a 50 kilogramme bag of maize that a farmer should sell to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA). The move is to ensure that farmers are motivated to grow more maize as they get value for their produce. On the other hand, PF Government ensured that fertilizer distribution to districts started off in May this year, 2015,â€ Mrs Phiri said.
She said this entails that farmers will sell their maize at a good price and immediately start collecting fertiliser and other farm inputs â€œthereby putting more money in peopleâ€™s pockets.â€
Mrs Phiri also said the PF administration has a initiated and pioneered aquaculture resulting in the sourcing of a US$50 million loan from the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) to restock major water bodies.
CHIMWEMWE MWALE, Lusaka