EconomyOpinion

ON OUR OWN

THERE is absolutely no reason why we are losing tons of gold to foreigners who are paying K250 per gram instead of K1000. The very notion that foreigners can freely enter our country and trade is anathema.
This is negligence of the worst order and those responsible must be penalized.

Today we join the plaintive and deeply felt anguish of the secretary to the cabinet who recently wondered why technocrats were taking too long to actualize policies
In February this year, Dr. Simon Mitis called for expeditious implementation of Cabinet’s decision to actualise the legalisation of cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes. He was disappointed that although Cabinet approved a proposal to implement the legalisation of production of marijuana for medicinal use, and a technical committee for cultivation, processing and exporting of cannabis for economic use was constituted, nothing much has taken place.
The same lethargy can be noticed among other technocrats who sit back while the country battles with intractable economic and social problems.
A typical example being the Engineering Institute of Zambia which sat back, until the Head of State Dr. Edgar Lungu nudged them into life, only to recite some unintelligible catalogue of what they alleged to be ills in the profession.
It must be clear to all Government officers and in- deed professionals that the Covid-19 pandemic has dealt this country a disastrous blow, which demands for individual and collective effort to surmount.
For a start the debt burden is a matter than cannot be wished away. Apart from tightening of belts and other difficult policy measures which the International Monetary Fund is known for, we must as a people brace ourselves and gird our loins to pro- duce value.
It is gratifying that the Economic Association of Zambia enjoys a cordial relationship with the Government. This relationship must be developed into an immediate emergency economic recovery team that must take account of internal revenue general. We must pick those areas of the economy we do well and exploit them to the full.
These should include agriculture and mining. In agriculture we must think out of the box in the same manner that Rwanda has done by commercializing the production of medicinal Marijuana for export. Other countries in Africa including Lesotho have taken advantage of this resource. We have commercial farmers including our Zambian National Service with vast capacity of irrigation and rain fed production. Advantage should be taken of this capacity.
In mining the country is bleeding kilograms of gold to foreign buyers who are paying a pittance for the commodity. Security and production in this industry must be intensified. We have said before that our current Police establishment does not have capacity to provide the security necessary to close loopholes.
The country has a huge reservoir of trained ca- dets who can be marshalled using the existing se1curity services to impose serious blockades against smuggling so that full value is retained to service our needs.
Finally, the empowerment program must now target the productive sector that has suffered most under covuid19 devastation. The Bank of Zambia stimulus must be directed at areas that will produce value and create jobs.
This effort will fail if our experts take a laize faire attitude and expect the political leadership to direct practical development programs. Time has come for all Zambians to move in tandem and use local re- sources to save the faltering economy.

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