Business News

Fri, 31 Mar 2017 12:13:38 +0000

March inflation rate drops by 0.1pc


THE inflation rate for the month of March 2017 has recorded a minimal decline of 0.1 percent, owing to price changes of food items countrywide

According to the Central Statistical Office (CSO), the inflation rate for March 2017 declined to 6.7 percent from 6.8 percent recorded in February 2017.

CSO director of census and statistics, John Kalumbi, told the media that the decline in the monthly inflation rate was mainly attributed to the price changes in food items.

Mr Kalumbi also explained that the decrease in annual food inflation rate was mainly attributed to price changes for fish items such as Mpulungu, Bhuka-buka and Chisense.

“The year on year food inflation rate fir March 2017 was recorded at 6.7 percent compared to the 7.4 percent recorded in February 2017. This represents a decrease of 0.7 percentage points,”he said.

He further explained that the annual inflation rate for non-good for March 2017 was recorded at 6.6 percent, from 6.1 percent for February 2017,indicating an increase of 0.5 percentage points.

Meanwhile, Zambia recorded a trade deficit of at K1,140.8 million in February from K227.3 million recorded in January representing a 401.9 percent increase.

Mr Kalumbi explained that this meant that Zambia imported more in February 2017 than it exported in nominal terms.

And Mr Kalumbi said the economy grew by 3.5 percent in the three quarters of 2016.

He said the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at a constant 2010 prices for he threw quarters of 2016 as estimated at K95,121.5 million compared to K91,885.0 million in the same period of 2015.





World Bank gives Zambia US$45m to combat TB


GOVERNMENT has commended the World Bank for giving Zambia U$45 million to combat tuberculosis (TB) in the country.

Minister of Health Dr Chitalu Chilufya said the World Bank was Zambia’s development partner because it was dedicated to eradicating the levels of TB on the Copperbelt and other mining communities in Zambia.

Dr Chilufya said it was unfortunate that the Copperbelt had the highest number of TB cases which normally emanates from the pollutant   substances from mining activities.

The health minister said heavy mining activities in Zambia had led to an increase of TB related cases because of high levels of pollutant sulphur dioxide emissions.

Dr Chilufya said out of 100 000 people on the Copperbelt 1,211 were infected with TB  a situation which he said was a source of worry.

He said the Government was however committed to ensuring that TB was eradicated on the Copperbelt and other parts of Zambia.

He said the World Bank in collaboration with Zambia, Lesotho, Mozambique and Malawi had approved and initiated a regional project called The Southern Africa Tuberculosis and Health Systems Support Project to combat the disease.

The Health Minister also gave a directive to the director of Occupational Health and Safety Institute to engage colleagues from other ministries to draft a document on the law to protect the workers with TB.

Dr Chilufya was speaking in Kitwe during the official Southern Africa Tuberculosis and Health Systems Support project launch held at Sherbourne Hotel.

Meanwhile Labour minister Joyce Nonde Simukoko has cautioned some mining houses and other companies who have a tendency of discriminating people with TB to stop doing so.

Mrs Simukoko said people with TB should not be side-lined by their employers because they had the right to work because TB was a curable disease.

And Speaking at the same function World Bank health Specialist Ronald Mutasa said in a speech read for the Country representative Ina Marlene Ruthenberg said the World Bank has a total financial commitment of US$122 million and will support some of Southern Africa’s high TB burden countries such as Lesotho, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia.


Council urged to start running bus company


LUSAKA commuters have appealed to Lusaka City Council to consider introducing a public transport company as a way of addressing congestion as well as increase revenue collection for the local authority.

The commuters said once the transport company was introduced it would improve on the revenue collection and as well as address congestion which had become unbearable at peak hours especially in the morning and evening.

In an interview with the Daily Nation, Mr Edwin Sisungwe of Mtendere compound said the introduction of public transport will also bring more money to the council which will also improve on service delivery to the general populace.

Mr Sisungwe said LCC should emulate the Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL) for the introduction of the commuters train service which he said has helped them reduce expenses on transport after the fuel increment.

He charged that LCC will have more customers compared to other transporters because their buses will be affordable and mobile.

“LCC should introduce public transport; it will give them more money just like the way ZRL is making profit with their commuter train because people are no longer spending much on transport and the train is modern and does not take long in reaching its destination,” he said.

Another commuter and a businessman, Freeman Phiri, charged that working from town was proving to be difficult because of congestion especially during peak hours and almost half of the money he earned would be spent on transport.

Mr Phiri said public transport would also end the harassment of commuters by some transporters especially bus conductors, because the authority would employ trained bus crews and they will be oriented on how to deal with the public.

He said the buses will not be overloaded because it will be Government transport.

“Most often commuters are harassed by conductors because there is no order on the road and commuters are not respected,” he said.



BoZ mops up K900m excess cash from circulation


THE Bank of Zambia (BoZ) has withdrawn K900 million in excess liquidity after conducting Open Market Operations (OMO) last week and has seen over K1,000 million reserved for the market.

OMO is when the central bank buys or sells securities such as Treasury bills from its member banks. This is the major tool the BoZ uses to raise or lower interest rates.

According to Cavmont Bank daily market report, BoZ on Wednesday conducted OMO and was looking to withdraw K900 million in excess liquidity.

“The central bank was still conducting open market operations (OMO) and was looking to with withdraw K900 million in excess liquidity. Accepted rates were averaging 9.21 percent, 11.00 percent and 18.25 percent on 1 day, 7 days and 14 days respectively,” read the report.

On Monday last week, the central bank withdrew excess liquidity amounting to K100 million through OMO.

During the same week, BoZ mopped up in excess of K800 million liquidity aimed at further creating stability in the exchange rate.

Meanwhile, the Kwacha was likely to recover the losses it suffered during the Wednesday trading session with the upcoming Treasury bill auction yesterday.

“On Wednesday, the Kwacha came under pressure against the U.S dollar after a wane in supply which was anticipated from exporters. The local unit began the day trading at K9.500 / K9.550 but was later being quoted at K9.550 / K9.600 by noon,” read the Cavmont report.

Cavmont however indicated that the market activity was largely subdued especially on the buy side.

The currency pair later closed the day at K9.560 / K9.610, 0.63 percent weaker than the day’s opening levels.

On the money market, commercial banks’ aggregate current account balance increased by K62.53 million to K877.12 million while the overnight borrowing and lending remained unchanged at 13.10 percent.

Total funds traded on Interbank were K144.00 million.



Disabled face nightmare to access financial services


PERSONS with disabilities face barriers that make it almost impossible for them to access financial services, making financial inclusion for this community difficult, Zambia Agency for Persons with Disabilities (ZAPD) board chairperson Julien Mwape has said.

And the Zambia National Building Society (ZNBS) managing director Joseph Chikolwa says the company’s 2017 focus was to work with persons with disabilities under ZAPD.

Speaking during the ZNBS/ZAPD focus group as part of the commemorations of the financial literacy week, Mr Chikolwa said their target was to help over 1,000 disabled people access financial services.

He said ZNBS would help the disabled by introducing brail and sign language advertising materials for the blind and the deaf respectively.

And Ms. Mwape said it was difficult for the disabled to access banks and banking services because the infrastructure did not support their movement and access.

She said the heights of bank counters and ATM machines were not user friendly to people in wheelchairs and this made it difficult for them to access financial services.

She explained that most printed material was not available in Braille and this made it difficult for the blind while the deaf could not communicate with financial institution staff because the latter were not trained in sign language.

“Persons with disabilities also need to easily accessible financial services such as project proposals, loans, financial management and insurance,’’ she said.

She said financial empowerment was a catalyst to poverty reduction as it brought development which would ultimately lead to national economic prosperity.

She stated that financial services for the disabled remained inaccessible and a nightmare.



Developing states lose $1 trillion in illegal deals


DEVELOPING countries such as Zambia lose an estimated US$1 trillion annually arising from illegal deals many of which involve anonymous companies, the Zambia Extractive Initiative and Transparency Industry (ZEITI) has disclosed.

ZEITI head, Saforiano Banda, said such a development could be curbed by disclosure of beneficial ownership as it would help lower the risk of financial misconduct.

A beneficial owner means the natural owner who directly or indirectly controls the corporate entity.

Zambia has up to 2020 to start disclosing beneficial ownership information, failure to which it risks being suspended from the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

Mr Banda said people behind oil, gas and mineral extraction may hide behind shell companies while facilitating tax dodging and corruption.

He was speaking at the dissemination of findings workshop on beneficial ownership disclosure in Lusaka recently.

“Transparency about Government revenues from the extractive sector is important for accountability, but says little about who owns and ultimately profits from the activities of the oil, gas and mining companies,” he said.

He said the identity of the real owners of companies that obtained rights to extract the minerals was often unknown as it was hidden by a chain of unaccountable corporate entities.

Mr Banda said this problem affected other sectors and helped to feed corruption and tax evasion, adding that people who lived in resource-rich countries were at risk of losing out as extractive assets were too often misallocated for corrupt reasons.

“The lack of access to beneficial ownership information of key players in the extractive industry by law enforcement and other competent authorities is a significant impediment,” he said.

He emphasised that availability of beneficial ownership information assisted competent authorities identify people who may be underlying activities of concern.

Mr Banda said benefits of beneficial ownership transparency included improving the investment climate, reduce reputational and financial risks.

He said other benefits included preventing corruption and illicit financial flows while enhancing revenue collection.

And Iva Jhala consultancy, which was engaged to conduct a survey on the disclosure of beneficial ownership, revealed that more than 50 percent of stakeholders suggested that the declaration should be signed by the directors of a company.

Company assistant consultant Choolwe Mufwafwi said 72 percent of the respondents said it was necessary for the law to require disclosure.


Govt seizes 112 Mukula tree trucks at Nakonde


AT LEAST 112 trucks laden with logs of the highly valued Mukula tree are marooned at Nakonde border post awaiting verification of documents as Government intensified efforts to prevent the smuggling of the commodity in Muchinga Province. 

Provincial permanent secretary Bright Nundwe said Government seized the contraband to prevent further loss of revenue through unscrupulous traders ferrying Mukula logs to foreign markets where the tree is in high demand.

Mr Nundwe said that security had been heightened at the border and that a scanner had been installed to screen containerised cargo, stating that with the assistance of security wings 112 trucks laden with Mukula logs had been impounded and were marooned awaiting verification of documentation.

In an interview yesterday, the permanent secretary said that President Edgar Lungu during his recent visit to the province gave a directive that all loopholes through which Mukula logs were leaving the country unaccounted for be sealed off, saying that Government could not afford to continue losing revenue.

He said that the Head of State was impressed with security and monitoring at Nakonde border although there were some lapses observed and stated that the border post was the second in the country in terms of Government revenue collection from Chirundu.

Mr Nundwe hoped that now that the facility was a one-stop border post its operations would be maximised.

“My office with assistance from security wings impounded 112 trucks laden with Mukula logs and the trucks are still marooned at the border awaiting verification of documents.

“Government has intensified security and what we are saying is that we do not want illegal business,” he said.

Mr Nundwe said that the tour of the province by President Lungu had given residents hope as well as elated them and that he extended an olive branch to all the 23 chiefs in the 10 districts, saying Government would not run an effective administration without positive input or consultation with traditional leaders.

Mr Nundwe said that he was delighted that President Lungu gave the ministries of Finance and Infrastructure a directive to fund and complete major projects in the province which had stalled due to erratic funding.

Mr Nundwe expressed confidence that the province would record a bumper maize harvest and implored residents to grow various crops, engage in fish farming and animal rearing with the aim of supplying the entire country and to diversify the economy.


Govt committed to provide digital TV, says minister


GOVERNMENT is committed to realizing the completion of the digital migration process by the end of 2017 that will see all households in the country access the digital TV signal, says Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Mulenga Kampamba.

Ms Mulenga said TopStar was a joint venture company created between the Zambian National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) and Africa’s leading digital TV technology provider Star Times Group, having been assigned by the Zambian Government as the authorized body to help realize the digital migration of Zambia.

She said TopStar would now play this major role as the authorized public signal distributor in Zambia to ensure that digital television signal was distributed across the country using the highest quality technology of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT).

She said the company was registered in June 2016 as an authorized body to move the entire country from analogue to digital television reception.

Ms Kampamba said the realization of television digitalization in Zambia was one of the urgent tasks that Government had committed itself to swiftly migrate from analogue to digital television reception through the provision of state of the art broadcasting and transmission technology.

In 2006, over 156 member countries of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) signed a binding treaty about digital broadcasting migration in Geneva, and African countries were committed to switching off analogue transmission and migrating to digital broadcasting by 2015, but instead most of African countries including Zambia have not achieved the goal.

Ms Kampamba said since its inception in late 2016, the company had opened up three branches in Lusaka, and was on course to open more branches in Choma, Kabwe and Kitwe in April.

“More branches will be opened in the second quarter of this year, and these branches offer world class customer service for both walk-in customers as well as call centre services for call-in customers,” she said.

She explained that by adopting advanced and high quality terrestrial digital TV technology, TopStar will revolutionize the digital television business rapidly while at the same time offering quality but affordable television reception, and enabling every Zambian family to get access to digital TV.

TopStar offers affordable countrywide coverage and through the DVB H.265 technology it will also provide access to ‘‘free to air’’ and pay TV channels.


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