Editor's Comment

Local contractors deserve more

EVERY developed country on the globe can attest that it takes citizens to develop a country.
Evidence is clear that the participation of citizens in the economic activities of their country is key to stimulating and sustaining economic growth and development.
There is no government anywhere in the world that can claim to have spurred development singlehandedly to the exclusion of its citizens.
It can also be said that Zambia can only develop if more Zambians participate in economic activities.
President Edgar Lungu is cognisant of this fact and has been keen on bringing more Zambians on board to take part in the country’s economic activities.
Government formulated a policy which requires that a minimum of 20 percent of all government-funded road contracts awarded by the Road Development Agency (RDA), local authorities and other government institutions be executed by Zambian-owned companies.
President Lungu has shown commitment to ensure that foreign contractors follow this policy to the letter. We have seen foreign contractors being taken to task for failure to adhere to the policy.
For a developing country like Zambia, the need for more local contractors to be given a share in the construction contracts cannot be overemphasised.
It is a known fact that when foreigners get construction contracts virtually all the revenue realised is externalised to their countries of origin.
This means that the money raised from contracts is used to benefit and develop their countries of origin at the expense of Zambia’s development.
Unfortunately, foreign contractors are within their legal rights to externalise l their proceeds.
There is no law that compels foreign investors to keep their money within the country of operation.
This is why we need local contractors to take charge of the construction sector.
If more local contractors are given construction contracts, it means the money realised will be re-invested back into the economy.
With more contracts and money in the hands of local contractors, they will be able to open up new business ventures thereby increasing economic activities.
As business activities increase, jobs will be created and more tax raised by Government.
As more local contractors are empowered, development is also boosted through construction of houses and business infrastructure among others.
Going by our extended family culture, as local contractors get empowered, the benefits trickle to their family members through sponsorship in education and business ventures.
The more contracts local contractors get the more impact on the economy.
It is for this reason that we support the proposal by Roan Member of Parliament Joseph Chishala for the sub-contracts allocated to local contractors to be increased from 20 to 40 percent.
As rightly pointed by Mr Chishala, 20 percent allocation to local contractors is good but it is just a starting point.
It is time local contractors claimed a much bigger share for the good of the country.
However, as noted by Minister of Finance Bwalya N’gandu, Government is more than ready to increase the subcontracting threshold for local contractors as long as they prove that they are capable of handling such works.
It is in public domain that some bad eggs have dented the image of local contractors by either abandoning incomplete projects or delivering substandard jobs.
It should, however, be noted that there are also good local contractors doing a commendable job out there.
These are the ones that deserve to be given more contracts.
It is indisputable that the country has capable people who can handle construction jobs but all they need is capacity building in terms of equipment and other related resources.
Genuine contractors need to mobilise themselves and prove that they can handle more and bigger projects.
We cannot continue to develop other countries when ours is in dire need.
More Zambians should arise and take responsibility of developing this country.
Increasing the sub-contracting threshold for local contractors, which is currently at 20 percent, will certainly help more Zambians to contribute to economic growth by ensuring that money spent on projects is kept within the economy.

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