Press Statement By The Chief Government Spokesperson On The Decisions Made By Cabinet At The 18th Cabinet Meeting Held On Monday, 30th October, 2023

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PRESS STATEMENT BY THE CHIEF GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON ON THE DECISIONS MADE BY CABINET AT THE 18TH CABINET MEETING HELD ON MONDAY, 30TH OCTOBER, 2023.

The President of the Republic of Zambia, Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, called for the 18th Cabinet Meeting in the Year 2023, on Monday, 30th October, 2023, at State House, to deliberate on policy and legislative matters that would foster national development and improve the general livelihoods of the people.

Cabinet made the following decisions:

1. Statutory Instrument on the Review of Minimum Wages and Conditions of Service.

Cabinet approved the issuance of a Statutory Instrument on the review of the minimum wages and conditions of service for domestic workers, shop workers and employees covered under the General Order, following the recommendation of the Tripartite Consultative Labour Council meeting at which the Government, Trade Unions and the representatives of employers, agreed to review the existing minimum wages and conditions of employment.

The proposed revision in minimum wages has been necessitated mainly due to the changes in the cost of living, the average national earnings, inflation, unemployment rate and capacity of employers to pay. Further, the revision of the minimum wages and conditions of service is also in line with the International Labour Organisation Convention No. 131, the Minimum Wage Fixing Convention for Protection of Vulnerable Workers.

Cabinet is of the view that this category of employees needs some kind of relief to enable them meet their needs and support to their families.

2. Statutory Instrument on the National Pension Scheme (Penalty Waiver) Regulations, 2023.

Cabinet also approved the issuance of the National Pension Scheme (Penalty Waiver) Regulations, 2023. The regulations aim to operationalise the provisions of the National Pension Scheme (Amendment) Act No. 20 of 2022 on the Penalty Waiver.

The Statutory Instrument on the Penalty Waiver is intended to reduce the debt burden for businesses and allow employers to clear their outstanding dues with NAPSA with the incentive that part of the debt will be written off; provide relief to businesses that were hard hit during the pandemic; encourage small-scale businesses including employers from the informal economy (such as employers of domestic workers) to register their employees with the scheme without worrying about high penalties for non-payment of past contributions; and enhance compliance levels, thereby stimulating the growth of businesses as freed-up resources will be used for reinvestment.

Cabinet realised that as of 31st December, 2022, a number of employers owed NAPSA huge sums of money in penalties. Further, NAPSA has, by law, been prosecuting some employers annually for failure to remit contributions which also results in additional operational costs to the Authority.

Therefore, granting the Penalty Waiver will provide companies with financial relief and stimulate business growth and employment creation. This will also encourage high compliance by employers in meeting their Statutory obligations leading to the sustainability of the Scheme.

3. The Revised National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Policy and its Implementation Plan.

Cabinet approved the Revised National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Development Policy and its Implementation Plan, in order to provide a framework for enterprise development that will create a prosperous and resilient MSME sector that will significantly contribute to country’s socio-economic development.

In 2008, the Government developed the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Policy. However, the MSMEs participation in commerce and industrial development through backward and forward linkages has remained unacceptably low due to a myriad of challenges. Therefore, it has become critical to review the MSME Policy to address emerging issues at the local, regional and global levels, especially with the creation of the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprise Development.

The revised Policy builds on the Vision 2030, the Eight National Development Plan and international best practices in micro, small and medium enterprises development.

4. Ratification of the Protocol Amending the Agreement for the Establishment of the Intergovernmental Standing Committee on Shipping.

During the meeting Cabinet also approved Zambia’s ratification of the Protocol amending the Agreement for the Establishment of the Intergovernmental Standing Committee on Shipping (ISCOS), in order for the Protocol to enter into force and ensure that membership of the Organisation grows to include Eastern, Northern and Southern African States using the Indian Ocean as their international trade route.

An estimated 90 percent of Africa’s international trade is transported by sea and primarily by foreign carriers. Many countries in Eastern, Northern and Southern Africa utilising the Indian Ocean as their main trade route share similar interests, and challenges, which include high shipping costs, exploitation and cargo being subjected to foreign policies that African nations have little, to no control of.

It was for this purpose that the Ministers responsible for maritime and shipping affairs collectively agreed to expand the scope of ISCOS. The Protocol is not yet in force as it requires ratification by at least two thirds of the Contracting Parties including Zambia.

5. Hosting of the 39th Regular Session of the Governing Council of Ministers for the International Red Locust Control Organisation for Central and Southern Africa (IRLCO-CSA), 09 – 10th November, 2023 in Lusaka, Zambia.

On hosting of international conferences and meetings, Cabinet approved the hosting of the 39th Regular Session of the Governing Council of Ministers for the International Red Locust Control Organisation for Central and Southern Africa (IRLCO-CSA), from 9th to 10th November, 2023 in Lusaka.

The Red Locust is a very hazardous insect pest to agriculture in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa. The insect breeds in specific grassland areas located in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia. Two of its eight outbreak areas, Lukanga swamps and the Kafue Flats, are found in Zambia while the rest are in other neighbouring countries. The Kafue Flats, in particular, have high levels of locust activity, occasionally forming swarms. Zambia has experienced outbreaks of the African Migratory Locust with the last two outbreaks being in 2016 and 2020.

It is also in the interest of Cabinet that Zambia should host as many international conferences and meetings, also as a way of promoting tourism.

6. Legislation Matters:

(a) The Zambia Institute of Procurement and Supply Bill, 2023.

During the Meeting, Cabinet approved in principle, to the introduction of a Bill in Parliament to repeal the Zambia Institute of Purchasing and Supply Act No. 15 of 2003, so as to revise the law that regulates the procurement and supply practitioners.

The objectives of the Bill, among others, are to continue the existence of the Zambia Institute of Purchasing and Supply and re-name it as the Zambia Institute of Procurement and Supply as well as re-define its functions; register and regulate the conduct of its members and re-constitute the Council of the Institute and also redefine its functions.

Cabinet has since observed that the current legislation is inadequate in dealing with many issues related to the procurement and supply profession.

(b) Zambia Institute of Architects Bill, 2023.

Cabinet also approved in principle, to the introduction of a Bill in Parliament to repeal the Zambia Institute of Architects Act No. 36 of 1995, in order to streamline the operations of the Zambia Institute of Architects and to make the Institution more responsive to current trends in the sector.

The Zambia Institute of Architects Bill will establish a comprehensive legal framework for the regulation of architectural services and provide for the registration of architects, allied professionals, technologists, technicians and student members. The current Act only provides for the Institute to only admit and register degree holders as members, excluding a lot of Diploma and Certificate Holders. The Bill will also allow for registration of foreign architects under joint venture with local architects, so as to allow for enhanced local capacity and transfer of skills.

(c) The Zambia Institute of Quantity Surveyors Bill, 2023.

Another legislative matter approved by Cabinet in principle is the introduction of a Bill in Parliament to repeal the Quantity Surveyors Act Cap 37 of 1995, in order to streamline the operations of the Zambia Institute of Quantity Surveyors and to make the Institution more responsive to current trends in the sector.

The current Act is limited to registering and regulating only practicing Quantity Surveyors (Consultants). The majority trained Quantity Surveyors, who include trainees, graduates and associates rendering services to both Government and private sector institutions, are not recognised by the Act, therefore, not regulated by any law, hence creating inconsistences in the professional code of conduct.

Hon. Cornelius Mweetwa, MP
MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND MEDIA AND
CHIEF GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON

1st November, 2023

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