By BUUMBA CHIMBULU
THE mining industry is currently under distress as the first set of tax relief measures announced by Government over three weeks ago which, once implemented can help sustain copper production, have not yet been enforced.
Zambia Chamber of Mines (ZCM) Chief Executive Officer, Sokwani Chilembo, said the Industry was in distress as the tax relief measures pronounced by Government including suspension of import duties on concentrates had not yet been implemented.
But an official at the Ministry of Finance noted that once Government had taken policy decision, it was for technocrats to implement.
“The delayed implementation of the announced tax relief measures need to be taken immediately to address the issues facing the mining sector and the business community in the midst of COVID-19,” Mr Chilembo said.
Mr Chilembo said in the time that had elapsed since the 27th March announcements, the industry’s circumstances had become more desperate.
Government on Monday this week announced second set of tax relief measures, three weeks after the first set was announced.
But Mr Chilembo urged Government to urgently engage with the sector to forestall the negative impact that would arise on the health of the Zambian economy if measures were not taken immediately.
He said the issues being faced at Mopani Copper Mines were but an example of the distress the sector was experiencing.
“Over three weeks ago ZCM submitted a broad three-phase economic plan to Government, to urgently manage the economic impacts arising from the pandemic.
“This was with a view to providing some guidance to government on the critical areas to be urgently addressed. This proposal included, firstly, immediate relief measures that could be implemented by Government in a matter of days,” he said.
He said all mining industry stakeholders had been hoping that some significant stimulus measures would be instituted, as was being seen across the world. Mr Chilembo also said the chamber membership stood ready to support Government efforts in its engagements with multilateral institutions to obtain assistance.
This, he was, was firstly in the fight against the epidemic and secondly for the support of economic recovery.
“The Chamber of Mines considers it essential that industry and government seize control of the negative narrative that has taken on a life of its own against the mining sector,” Mr Chilembo said.
About three weeks ago, ZCM proposed the introduction of a six-month tax amnesty on all active open tax assessments and audits currently active at the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA).
ZCM wrote to Government to implement a six-month amnesty as most taxpayers would be unable to meet their obligations due to limited cash flow caused by COVID-19.
By BUUMBA CHIMBULU