JACK ZIMBA, Lusaka
A LOCAL cigarette manufacturer says Government needs to seriously monitor and stop the smuggling of cigarettes into the country to promote the local industry.
Roland Imperial Tobacco Company Limited (RITCO) general manager Aliport Ngoma said the prevalence of smuggled cigarettes on the Zambian market is very high, robbing the local producers of the market share.
According to Mr Ngoma, about 15 percent of cigarettes on the Zambian market are smuggled into the country.
Mr Ngoma said Government is also losing huge sums of money through unpaid tax.
“There is need for all stakeholders, including the Zambia Revenue Authority and Zambia Police, to tackle this matter seriously. As RITCO, we are ready to cooperate with all stakeholders in curtailing this matter, which poses a great danger to industrial growth and economic growth,” he said.
Mr Ngoma also urged Government to come up with deliberate policies to support Zambian-owned companies “that have to play catch-up with multinationals.”
RITCO has invested over US$20 million at its current facility in Makeni, and now plans to invest up to US$80 million in the Lusaka South Multi-Facility Zone, with a projection to create 2,000 jobs.
“It is our hope that Government will provide incentives for local processing of tobacco and discourage export of Zambian tobacco without value addition once these facilities become available in Zambia,” he said.
Mr Ngoma, however, complained of some chain stores being biased against locally-produced cigarettes.
“It is very difficult to get shelf space in these stores, let alone have locally produced cigarettes accepted for sale in these chain stores, for whatever reason,” he said.