By Scoop Reporter

THE Chamber of Mines has commended Government for enacting phase 1 of the COVID-19 economic plan and securing funding from the international community.

Chamber Chief Executive Officer Sokwani Chilembo today said the implementation of economic relief measures originally announced over a month ago and the securing of approximately $150 million in funding from international partners, are welcome signs of action and holding out the real possibility of more to come.

Mr. Chilembo says the enactment of the relief measures provides companies across the private sector with much needed certainty as to how and when they will apply, as well now giving businesses the cash flow benefit that was intended.

“The repeal of parts of the recently introduced Statutory Instrument (SI) 90, in particular, is welcomed by the industry and reflects positively on the active engagement between the industry and the Government on this issue,” Mr. Chilembo said.

He says the statement by the Ministry of Finance on April 29, announcing the K2.7bn in initial funding being secured from America and the United Kingdom, and multilateral institutions, to help in Zambia’s fight against COVID-19, is another encouraging step towards mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic.

He says this also provides Zambia with some much-needed financial firepower but says the big question now is how these funds will be deployed.

He says Zambia has been late to act but that one advantage is that the government can now learn from those countries further ahead.

“Zambia has so far been spared the worst of the virus, but not the economic shock from the global lockdown. We must look to best policy practice elsewhere, particularly on our own continent, as we seek to protect lives and livelihoods.

“Many African countries have acted swiftly; the African Tax Administration Forum has published useful guidance too. We must make sure that our economies are in a position to bounce back when the contagion eventually subsides,” he said.

In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic the Chamber of Mines submitted a broad three-phase economic plan to Government, to urgently manage the economic impacts arising from the pandemic.

The three phases are immediate relief measures, an emergency support package, and a ‘fight back’ fiscal regime.

“We therefore strongly support further engagement with multilateral lenders, and efforts to secure temporary relief on our sovereign debt repayments – which swallow up a huge portion of our national income,” he said.

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