Energy, agric sector need overhaul


THE Zambia Association of Manufacturers (ZAM) has called for a ‘complete overhaul’ of both the energy and agriculture sectors to plug the historical hurdles that led to subsidies in the first place. And Securities and Exchange Commission chief executive officer Wala Chabala says the removal of subsidies is a prudent decision by Government. ZAM chief executive officer Maybin Nsupila says during the overhaul, solutions that complement the removal of subsidies could be explored to find a permanent solution. “Government needs to go beyond removing subsidies and instead overhaul the entire process by knocking off certain taxes,” Mr Nsupila said. While removing subsidies may impact the economy positively in the long term, it will have a negative impact in the short term.

“ZAM’s concern is not subsidies but the many levies that make fuel in this country more costly than it ought to be. There is need for Government to restructure the entire process,” he said.
On the removal of maize subsidies, Mr Nsupila said this will do more harm than good in the short term as small-scale farmers will be kicked out of business. And Dr Chabala said Government made a wise decision to remove subsidies because they were ultimately not benefiting the intended people – the poor. “It’s best to put these monies into other social sectors and infrastructure development instead of subsidising maize and fuel which only a few benefit,” Dr Chabala said.

Meanwhile, National Restoration Party (NAREP) national secretary Jevan Kamanga has urged Government to consider the poor as it implements the removal of subsidies.
Mr Kamanga said the PF administration must always remember that it was voted into power by the Zambian people to improve living standards. “NAREP has noted with concern hikes in prices of essential commodities due to Government’s decision to halt subsidies,” Mr Kamanga said. This is according to a statement released in Lusaka yesterday.
Mr Kamanga said the changes may be necessary but the rate at which they are being implemented “is unbearable for the majority of Zambians”.

Maize is a staple food and Government must handle the matter with caution, he said.
“Government must engage people and help them to understand certain measures before making decisions that have a direct bearing on their lives,” he said. About two weeks ago, Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ZACCI) president Geoffrey Sakulanda said Government’s decision to remove subsidies from fuel is timely. “The world over and in Africa in particular, countries like Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Namibia and Brazil are moving away  from fuel subsidies,” Mr Sakulanda said. He said subsidies benefit the wealthy and is a strain on resources meant for the social sector.Mr Sakulanda said although the increase in fuel prices will lead to an increase in costs in the short run, ZACCI feels that the decision is good.
Meanwhile, WENDY MPOROKOSO reports that the Solwezi District Farmers Association has welcomed the removal of agricultural subsidies on maize.

Association chairperson Amos Watambwa says the removal of the subsidy is fine but it should have been done gradually. “Farmers in Solwezi feel the process should have been gradual, not the way it has been done,” Mr Watambwa said. The removal of the agricultural subsidy should enable Government to flood the market with fertilisers and other inputs, he said, adding that farmers are used to subsidies as they only access inputs during planting.
He said the removal of subsidies should be accompanied by the provision of farming inputs which farmers can access at any time of the year


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