Ministers have defended the Patriotic Front (PF) government’s economic reform program as fair, liberal and offering some of the most attractive incentives on the continent.
Leading the presentations at the joint Business Council for Africa (BCA)-Zambia High Commission investment forum held at Zambia House in London,Robert Sichinga, the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, said the ongoing reforms in the economy were intended to make the playing field fairer, encourage more foreign investment and ensure mutual benefit for both investors and the people of Zambia.
“There are no capital controls and there are no restrictions whatsoever regarding profits that investors make. What we have done is simply to empower the reserve bank (Bank of Zambia) with an instrument to monitor the value of exports. We want to know for purposes of normal regulatory function that every government performs,” Sichinga said.
He dispelled assertions Sheila Rai, a representative of the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) that the investors were nervous about signs of regulatory controls that seemed to place capital restrictions on investors.
“In the past the only agency that recorded export and import figures is the Central Statistical Office but we have now created an instrument that empowers the reserve bank to check on these figures. This does not mean that investors will face any restrictions. Once they have paid the due taxes and met other statutory obligations, they can repatriate their profits,” he said.
The minister invited British investors to explore the attractive opportunities Zambia was offering through the planned farming blocks across the country.
“We have enquiries from the Middle East, China, India and America regarding the acquisition of land for them produces food for their people. But the United Kingdom has been very slow. We are moving on and I urge you to respond. Our policy is to invite all and exclude none. The UK has a comparative advantage and I urge you to move faster.”
Other key speakers included Zambia Development Agency director-General Andrew Chipwende, EIU editor Shefali Rai, and inventors’ representatives Markku Virtanen and non-executive director of Zambeef John Rabb More than 70 representatives of UK investors attended the meeting.
Deputy minister of works, supply and communications Col. Panji Kaunda and deputy minister of mines Richard Musukwa also spoke at the conference.
Col. Kaunda outlined the various infrastructure development projects the PF government has put in place to open up all parts of the country and to create effective connectivity with neighboring countries.
Musukwa said the changes the government was effecting in various sectors of the economy were aimed at increasing transparency and ensuring that citizens benefitted from their natural endowed resources.