Chenda seeks steel import halt

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Zambia Daily Mail by Online Editor on 5/19/13



LOCAL procurement officers buying steel on behalf of government should stop importing the product which is available in Zambia.

Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister Emmanuel Chenda said importing a product that can be found locally is detrimental to the country’s manufacturing industry.

“The PF government is prudent in its dealings and anyone who is trying to frustrate its works will not be condoned,” Mr Chenda said this in an in an interview in Lusaka yesterday.

He said the government’s intention is to buy products from the cheapest sources to save finances.

He said the government, through the Ministry of Works and Supply, will have to reverse the action of the procurement officers if it is proved that they have been importing steel which can be found at home.

Universal Mining and Chemical Industries recently revealed that the iron and steel the company exports to Zimbabwe and South Africa is bought from those countries by some government procurement officers.

Mr Chenda said the practice is retrogressive as it does not promote industries such as the Universal Mining which produces steel in Kafue.

He said the government has a responsibility to create jobs and this can only happen when local industries get the necessary support.

Mr Chenda said importing products which are available in Zambia “leaves much to be desired.”

“If this is true, then there is more to it than meets the eye and we will have to look at this carefully,” he said.

He said companies such as Universal Mining and Chemical Industries can contribute to job creation if the manufacturing industry thrives.

Universal Mining and Chemical Industries head of corporate and public affairs Bright Chunga said the company appreciates Government’s intervention in the matter.

Dr Chunga recently said because of lack of demand for Universal Mining’s iron and steel products, the company ends up exporting 60 percent of their products to Zimbabwe and South Africa.