Edgar Lungu seeks to end mining tax rows, directs Berlin Msiska

ZRA Commissioner General Berlin Msiska
ZRA Commissioner General Berlin Msiska

President Edgar Lungu has  directed the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) Commissioner-General, Berlin Msiska, to expedite dialogue with mine owners and promptly resolve the impasse over the new mining tax regime.

President Lungu issued the directive after he addressed a special session of Cabinet to consider the impasse over the new mining tax regime and the outstanding Value Added Tax (VAT) refunds for mining companies.

This is contained in a statement made available to ZANIS in Lusaka today by Special   Assistant  to the President Press and Public Relations,  Amos Chanda

President Lungu said he wants an amicable settlement that must end in a win-win outcome for both the mining companies and the people of Zambia.

He said on the VAT and the status of the VAT refunds, the ZRA Commissioner-General and the Minister of Finance, Alexander Chikwanda, reported that a Statutory Instrument to regulate the payment of refunds would be ready in a matter of days to deal with future payments.

“The Head of State has directed that in the light of the existing legal dilemma regarding claims that have already been submitted, new negotiations must, therefore, be opened to address mechanisms under which any payment would be settled”, President Lungu said.

“I want to see increased dialogue and increased flow of information that in fact we have been talking to the mine owners over these matters. We have to make this clear so that we can forestall the falsehoods that some people are peddling to poison public perception regarding this matter,” he said.

Mr Lungu stated that the ultimate aim is to protect jobs and keep mines profitable at the same time.

“We must also maintain the country’s right to collect due taxes,” the President said.

The special session of Cabinet comprised of the Vice-President, Inonge Wina,  Finance Minister, Alexander Chikwanda, Minister of Justice, Ngosa Simbyakula and Minister of Commerce Trade & Industry, Margaret Mwanakatwe.

He said the Minister of Mines will join this committee of ministers tasked to tackle the mines tax impasse.

Other than the ZRA Commissioner-General, Secretary to the Treasury, Fredson Yamba and Ministry of Finance Permanent Secretary, Felix Nkulukusa were in attendance.

Meanwhile, President Lungu has reverted Dr Bwalya Ng’andu to the Bank of Zambia as Deputy Government-Operations.

Mr Lungu said Dr Ng’andu has been on secondment to the civil service as Permanent Secretary for  Mchinga Province.

“In January last year, you were reassigned to government as Permanent Secretary. Just as at Bank of Zambia, you have of Deputy of Governor (Operations). This is a critical position especially at a time when we face intractable challenges in both the domestic and global economies,” Mr Lungu said .
“There is a compelling need to use monetary policy to stimulate the economy and it cannot be business as usual,” the President said in a letter to Dr Ng’andu.

“Our government’s proclaimed intention is to lower the interest rates in order for small businesses to access bank facilities has proved futile because the Central Bank has persistently been tightening even when the economic fundamentals suggested the opposite,” he observed.

Mr Lungu hoped that Dr Ngandu will reinforce the Governor and initiate meaningful dialogue with commercial banks to close some avoidable loopholes that induce injurious outflows of meagre foreign exchange.