Press Statement By The Chief Government Spokesperson On The Decisions Made By Cabinet At The 19th Cabinet Meeting Held On Monday

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Cornelius Mweetwa

PRESS STATEMENT BY THE CHIEF GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON, HON. CORNELIUS MWEETWA, MP ON THE DECISIONS MADE BY CABINET AT THE 19TH CABINET MEETING HELD ON MONDAY, 13TH NOVEMBER, 2023.

The President of the Republic of Zambia, Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, called for the 19th Cabinet Meeting in the Year 2023, on Monday, 13th November, 2023, at State House, to deliberate on policy and legislative matters.

Cabinet made the following decisions:

1.Legislative Matters: Bills Approved for Publication and introduction in Parliament:

Cabinet deliberated on a number of legislative matters which are mostly Budget Bills to facilitate the implementation of the 2024 National Budget:

(a)Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2023

Cabinet approved for publication and introduction in Parliament during the current sitting, “The Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2023.”

The objectives of the Bill are to amend the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Act, so as to revise the provisions relating to taxation of cross-border electronic services and also provide for the implementation of electronic invoicing system.

Currently, the Value Added Tax Act does not provide for a proper implementation of the electronic invoicing system for the imposition of tax on cross-border electronic services to taxable suppliers at an affordable cost. Therefore, it has become necessary to amend the Value Added Tax Act, to revise the provisions relating to taxation of cross-border electronic services and to provide for the implementation of the electronic invoicing system.

(b)The Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2023.

Cabinet also approved for publication and introduction in Parliament during the current sitting, a Bill entitled “The Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2023.” The objectives, among others, is to amend the Income Tax Act so as to increase the Pay-As-You-Earn tax free threshold for individuals to sixty-one thousand two hundred Kwacha per annum from fifty-seven thousand six hundred Kwacha per annum, reduce the top-marginal tax rate to thirty-seven percent, and adjust the income bands accordingly.

It is envisaged that, the proposed Bill, once enacted, will ensure an effective and efficient income tax base for the year 2024, enhance tax compliance and tax monitoring by the Zambia Revenue Authority.

(c)The Customs and Excise (Amendment) Bill, 2023.

Another Budget-related matter approved for publication and introduction in Parliament during the current sitting is a Bill entitled “The Customs and Excise (Amendment) Bill, 2023.”

The objectives of this Bill, among others, are to amend the Customs and Excise Act so as to revise the rates of customs and excise duty payable on certain goods, revise the list of goods to be subject to surtax at importation.

It has become necessary to amend the Customs and Excise Act, Chapter 322 of the Laws of Zambia, so as to stimulate economic activities in the country by reducing the customs and excise duty payable on certain goods, among others, and also to boost local production of goods in the country.

(d)The Zambia Revenue Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2023.

Cabinet approved for publication and introduction in Parliament during the current sitting, a Bill entitled “The Zambia Revenue Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2023.”

The object of this Bill is to amend the Zambia Revenue Authority Act so as to enhance tax recovery by the Authority. Currently, the law does not provide for sufficient measures to curb tax evasion and seal revenue leakages. It is envisaged, therefore, that the proposed Bill, once enacted, will assist in curbing tax evasion and sealing revenue leakages by enabling whistle blowers to lead to the recovery of a tax and consequently lead to increased revenue for the provision of public goods and services, among others.

(e) The Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 2023.

Cabinet approved a Bill entitled “The Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 2023,” for publication and introduction in Parliament during the current sitting.

The object of the Bill is to remove the restriction on the use of the Equalisation Fund for capital expenditure. Currently, the law restricts local authorities to use a minimum of twenty (20) percent of the Fund to finance capital expenditure which has resulted in the duplicity and non-coordinated way of undertaking capital projects in light of the capital component under the Constituency Development Fund and the Zambia Devolution Support Programme which has a capital component. Therefore, there is need to introduce a Bill in Parliament so as to remove the restriction on the use of the Equalisation Fund for capital expenditure.

(f)The Subordinate Courts (Amendment) Bill, 2023.

Another Bill approved by Cabinet for publication and introduction in Parliament during the current sitting is a Bill entitled “The Subordinate Courts (Amendment) Bill, 2023.”

The objectives of this Bill among others, is to amend the Subordinate Courts Act so as to provide for the constitution of divisions of a Subordinate Court; revise the provisions relating to the civil jurisdiction of the Subordinate Courts; and empower the Chief Justice to set the limits of the civil jurisdiction of magistrates by Statutory Instrument.

Currently, the Subordinate Courts Act does not provide for the establishment of specialised divisions of the Subordinate Courts and the regulation of the times at which the sessions of the Subordinate Court shall be held. This has created challenges in the expeditious resolution of matters.

2. Legislative Matters: Approved in Principle:

(a) Fisheries and Aquaculture Bill, 2023.

Cabinet approved in principle, to the introduction of a Bill in Parliament to repeal the Fisheries Act No. 22 of 2011.

It is necessary to introduce a Bill in Parliament to provide for emerging issues in the fisheries and aquaculture subsector such as the control, prevention and management of the aquatic animal diseases, some gaps in the development of the aquaculture industry and climate change, among others.

Further, the Bill will address and make provisions for some aspects of the growing aquaculture industry that has remained unregulated over the last decade. This includes translocation and introduction of invasive species, breeding of invasive species, financing and environmental including ecological degradation.

(b) The Zambia Medicines and Medical Supplies Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2023.

Cabinet also approved in principle, to the introduction of a Bill in Parliament to amend the Zambia Medicines and Medical Supplies Act No. 9 of 2019.

The objectives of the Bill are to provide for the amendment of the definition of medical supplies in order to remove the ambiguity that currently exists and provide clarity on what should be procured by Zambia Medicines and Medical Supplies Agency as medical supplies.

The amendment aims to streamline the procurement function of ZAMMSA so as to enhance efficiency in the implementation of its mandate of procuring, storage and distribution of medicines and consumable medical supplies in the country.

3. Foreign Relations:

(a)Application for Diplomatic Status for the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre.
During the Meeting Cabinet also approved granting of diplomatic status at the level of an international organization to the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre, in order to enhance the institution’s ability to fully carry out its official mandate in Zambia.

This decision was arrived at in order to facilitate and enhance its functions of crop quality and productivity, reduce producer and consumer risks, and generate wealth from agriculture, with the ultimate goals of reducing hunger, malnutrition, and poverty and collaboration with the policy makers.

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center is an international non-profit, research and training institution which is part of the Consortium of International Agriculture Research Centers, established in 1966.

The institution applies science to increase food security and improve the productivity and profitability of maize and wheat farming systems in developing countries.

(b)Ratification of the African Telecommunications Union Convention.

Cabinet approved that Zambia ratifies the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) Convention in order for the country to be part of the rapid development of info-communications in Africa.

Ratifying the ATU Convention will also facilitate Zambia’s participation in a number of ATU programmes. The African Telecommunications Union was founded in 1977 as a specialized agency of the then Organisation of African Unity, now the African Union, in the field of telecommunications. It assumed its present name in 1999 which led to the transformation of the agency into a partnership between public and private stakeholders in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector.

ATU provides a forum for stakeholders involved in ICT to formulate effective policies and strategies aimed at improving access to information infrastructure and services.

4.Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for the Electricity Sub-sector.

In the area of energy, Cabinet approved the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for the Electricity Sub-sector as a blueprint to guide future development of using both on-grid and off-grid technologies.

Cabinet has observed that over the past years, electricity resource planning focused on supply side projects only, such as construction of generation and transmission facilities without linking them to the demand side. In addition, the assessment of supply side options was limited to a few major technologies without considering renewable and alternative technologies such as Nuclear, Solar, Wind, Geothermal, etc.

Fundamentally, the IRP will attract investments to diversify the current energy mix and enhance energy security; support Government’s industrialisation and economic diversification agenda driven by mining, agriculture, manufacturing, transport and tourism sectors; enable Government to achieve its vision of attaining universal access to electricity by 2030; actualise Zambia’s ambition of becoming a regional electricity trading hub; and enhance coordination and efficiency in the procurement and development of power projects.

5. Statutory Instruments:

(a)The Tolls (Konkola Toll Plaza) Regulations, 2023.

Another matter approved by Cabinet during the Meeting is the approval to the publication of the Tolls (Konkola Toll Plaza) Regulations, 2023, to allow Turbo-Kachin Consortium Limited, the Concessionaire for the 35km Chingola-Kasumbalesa Public Private Partnership Toll Road Project, to operate and collect toll fees at the Konkola Toll Plaza which was constructed as part of the Public-Private Partnership Project (PPP).

Section 14 of the Tolls Act No. 14 of 2011, allows for a Private Party to be given the authority to operate and maintain any toll road under a concession agreement. Consequent to Article 7.2(g) of the Concession Agreement for the Chingola-Kasumbalesa T3 Mining Transportation Channel, the Concessionaire was given ‘the right, power and authority to manage and operate the Project Infrastructure up to the Appointed Date.’

It is in the interest of Government to encourage the private sector to participate in the provision of infrastructure, which traditionally, should have been provided through public financing.

(b)The Investment Trade and Business Development (Priority Sectors) (Declaration) Order, 2023.

One of the issues also approved by Cabinet is a Statutory Instrument, The Investment, Trade and Business Development (Priority Sectors) (Declaration) Order, 2023, which aims to address historical economic challenges, attract investments, diversify the economy and promote sustainable development.

Cabinet approved the declaration of the sectors of Manufacturing; Construction; Energy; Water Supply; and Information Technology, as priority sectors in order to enable targeted resource distribution, investment incentives, and regulatory assistance to advance specific sectors as part of the efforts to support and encourage focused economic development.

The Investment, Trade and Business Development Act No.18 of 2022, provides for the Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry to declare a sector as a priority sector by Statutory Instrument with approval from Cabinet. Therefore, in order to promote economic growth, exports and resource utilization, there is need to declare the aforementioned sectors as priority sectors.

6. Appointment of Boards:

(a)The Public Service Microfinance Company Board of Directors.

Cabinet approved the appointment of a seven (7) Member Public Service Microfinance Company in order to comply with the provisions of the Companies Act No. 10 of 2017.

The Public Service Microfinance Company was incorporated in March, 2013 under the Companies Act of 1994 for the purpose of providing affordable loans and other innovative financial solutions to the public service workers across the country. The first and only Board of Directors for the Company was constituted in March, 2013 and was dissolved in January, 2018.

The establishment of the company was premised on the fact that most public service workers faced challenges in accessing finances from the conventional banking sector and Micro Finance institutions that normally charge high lending rates.

(b) The National Savings and Credit Bank (NATSAVE) Board of Directors.

Another Board approved by Cabinet during the Meeting is the National Savings and Credit Bank Board so that the members accordingly, provide effective strategic direction and accountability for NATSAVE as a requirement of the National Savings and Credit Act.

Part II, Section (4) of the National Savings and Credit Bank Act, requires the Minister of Finance and National Planning to appoint the Board of Directors of NATSAVE. Currently, NATSAVE does not have full membership of the Board of Directors, and as such, are unable to carryout their duties as indicated in the law. As a result of this, the bank has been constrained in terms of undertaking certain operational functions that require Board approval. It is against this background that Cabinet has decided to approve filling of the vacant positions of the Board.

7. Hosting of the 11th African Federation of Teaching Regulatory Authorities (AFTRA) Conference and the 13th Roundtable.

Cabinet also approved Zambia’s hosting of the Africa Federation of Teaching Regulatory Authorities 11th Conference and the 13th Roundtable meeting on the theme: “Teaching and Learning: Agenda Setting For The African Union Education Year (2024)” to be held at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka from the 21st to 24th May, 2024.

It is necessary to host the Conference in order to expose the Zambian educational practitioners to best practices in navigating through challenges faced in the area of pedagogy innovative programmes, Technology Enabled Teaching and Learning, Education Leadership, policy change and implementation, advocacy, networking, building partnerships and establishing pathways for collaborations and also create networks for possible business deals and investment by business people and entrepreneurs.

(Original Copy signed)

Hon. Cornelius Mweetwa, MP

MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND MEDIA AND CHIEF GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON

18TH NOVEMBER, 2023

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