As if the cost of living is not already high enough, PF comes in with another slap in the face of the citizenry, sending all of us reeling to the floor.
Fuel in Zambia is expensive basically because of three factors; the kwacha/dollar exchange rate which has deteriorated due to debt repayments. Secondly we have a chain of middle men who have no business buying fuel, and thirdly are the exorbitant fees charged by Indeni which can be circumvented, if oil marketing companies were allowed to import a finished product.
The Tazama pipeline has leakage problems that we have failed to maintain it, but you the people of Zambia are being exploited to attend to these avoidable charges.
How does petrol which costs K9.49 at wholesale end up K15.98 at the pump? Where does the K6.49 go to? The answer is simple; PF middle men, unnecessary fees and outright theft by a lot of people along the way to the pump price.
Other than transport costs, there is no other justifiable reason why fuel must be sold this expensive in Zambia apart from outright theft by the PF and its cohorts. This is not a joking matter anymore fellow citizens. Zambia is in extraordinary circumstances, and extraordinary measures must be taken now and not tomorrow by all of us and those entrusted with the power to make decisions.
Typically, our fuel has seven tax components by the time it lands at the pump i.e fuel terminal fee, marking fee, excise duty, dealer margin, ERB Fees, Strategic Reserve Fund and finally VAT which is not calculated at wholesale price but at the total price, after adding all the other taxes. This simply means there’s a double count here and this is the reason our price of fuel is very high.
What do we then propose? For now can PF scrap all the other taxes and allow Oil Marketing Companies to import fuel as a finished product from reliable and credible sources.
Here is what is happening [Base Price + Fuel Terminal Fee (Tax) + Marking Fee (Tax) + Excise Duty (Tax) + Transport + OMC Margin + Dealer Margin (Tax) + ERB Fees (Tax) + Strategic Reserves Fund (Tax)] then this subtotal is subjected to VAT at 16% (Tax).
What we expected the PF to do this time around was to reduce the pump price of fuel by not less than 4 kwacha per litre.
I ASKED. YOU ANSWERED: SERIES 2 – EDUCATION
Sikaceya Brenda said “(sic) 1. Free and quality education please. We have seen its adverse effects as per status quo 2. Change the mindset from white colour jobs to entrepreneurship where 80% plus of the working population are engaged in.” Her point is buttressed by Daniel Success Sakala and he says “(sic) I would an education system that gives my children hope. You know these days there’s is hardly any motivation to work hard at school as the so called uneducated are taking up big positions in government, that musachite ( don’t do) Mr. President.” And then Mark William Ross “(sic) I will mention more than one – EDUCATION curricula should be revised to fit in this modern society……”
Yes, Mark William Ross, education must be FIT for purpose. As it is, our curriculum is designed for those learners who want to pursue academic excellence. Therefore, our efforts on education reform will be to develop a two-pronged education system, one that will make it possible for those that just want life skills such as carpentry, auto mechanics, and many other artisanal courses, to receive basic education and those that want to end with bachelor’s, masters and doctoral degrees will also take that route. Ultimately UPND policy is that education will accessible and free for that matter. Let me illustrate something for those that like arguing that free education is not possible.
Edgar Lungu’s trip to India a week or so ago cost the nation meal allowances for 1,700 plus, UNZA students. How? The nation was informed that his delegation had 37 people. Let’s do some maths, he was in India for 3 days, add two days of travel either direction, that is 5 days. The daily subsistence allowance (DSA) for the 37 alone, forget Lungu for a bit, was US$365/day x 5 days x 37 people, which works our to US$67,525 and air ticket to India, economy is about US$602 as of today; by 37 people that is US$22,200. The total on DSA and Airtickets is US$87,725 multiplied by 13 kwacha being the exchange rate this is ZMK1,166,425 (ZMK1.2 million). What can this money do for education? It can pay food allowances for 1,767 UNZA students for a month! This is how you run a modern Government, everything you do must have a cost-benefit analysis. What did we get out of India? MOUs that favour Indian companies.
When I say Zambia is not poor, what we have is a leadership that lacks a vision and priorities, I mean exactly what I have illustrated in the paragraph above. I can do many other permutations on the feasibility of free education, but I think the above is illustration enough to drive the point home.
Let’s continue talking.
I ASKED. YOU ANSWERED: SERIES 3 – ECONOMY
I was under the impression this would be the top most priority for us all, but I was wrong, it was number three. Almost all of you agree that we need functioning economy. This came through via jobs, creating of employment and business opportunities. Here is a summary on what we are going to do to jump start the economy. First we are not going to borrow in a careless manner the way the PF has done. We want to release resources for the common people to access financing at affordable rates. What do I mean? Here is an example, if there is 100 kwacha in the economy and there are 4 people that need to borrow, one of these people is Government. And that Government needs 60 kwacha of this money, it means the other three have to share 40 kwacha. What the lender will do, then is price the remaining 40 kwacha highly so that the three can compete for it. And if the three are satisfied to share the 40 kwacha while Government gets the 60, it means that the price of money (interest rates will remain high. But the moment Government reduces from 60 kwacha to say 20 kwacha there is extra 40 kwacha remaining for the three that is 80 kwacha. And if the three do not utilise the whole 80 kwacha at the same interest rates, the only way to attract them to borrow is to reduce the price of the 40 kwacha. This is called reduction in interest rates. I know this is a little complicated, but this is the simplest way I can put it. So Government will stop borrowing recklessly so that borrowing costs are reduced.
Secondly its policy consistency. Just this year, the PF spoke about General Sales Tax (GST), from Value Added Tax (VAT), but they have changed and said we shall not YET implement GST, we shall therefore keep VAT. The mining tax regime has changed over 6 times in 10 years. Now if I am an investor in Zambia, when I am doing my cash projections I take into account taxes and other obligations. But if the Government does not give me a clear indication of what the tax structures will look like, I have no option but to hold my investment until such a time that the direction they are going is clear. This will not happen in our Government, we shall offer proper guidance so as to attract quality investment and also promote local investors.
Third thing we want to do to unlock the economy and manage exchange rates, is to look within for solutions. We have mukula trees in this country, we have carpenters in the country, we have wood processors in this country, so why do we use imported furniture further putting pressure on the kwacha. I always give this example, why should we be importing brake pads for motor vehicles when the thing is just friction materials like asbstos (which we can produced); iron (which we can recycle) and glue to stick the friction material to the steel back! What those youth at chilenje market lack is simply access to equipment and reskilling that can enable them make high quality brake pads. And once we have low interest rates they will access capital financing while Government gives then skills as part of education reform I spoke about yesterday.
These above are just broad policy issues that can unlock this economy, and once this is done there will be mass job creation.
Let’s keep talking.
I ASKED. YOU ANSWERED: SERIES 4 – AGRICULTURE
Maybe the hottest topic right now is the price of mealie-meal. I explained a few weeks ago how a 25kg of mealie-meal could easily be sold for less than 50 kwacha. For those that did not read my submission, basically I was saying if we lower the costs of inputs like fertiliser, seed, diesel and then reskill the farmer to increase production, the productivity dividend will give us low prices of mealie-meal. It is this simple.
Agriculture is the most effective way we can restart our manufacturing industry. It has a varied number of spin offs which include food and stock feed whose processing depends on manufacturing industry. I have repeatedly spoken about value addition in agriculture. What do I mean? Instead of supplying raw soybeans to edible oil producers, we could encourage farmers to sell impurified oil to these industries. What this means is that a farmer would employ labour to produce the soybeans, and then employ some more workers to process the soybeans into impurified edible oil. The farmer would thus sell impurified oil at a higher price and retain the soycake to feed their livestock. Same with maize, farmers lose out on maize husks, or “Gaga” when they sell raw maize to millers. That “gaga” mixed with soy or sunflower cake is the base for livestock feed. One last example, we import potatoes we use for making chips. Yet having parboiled potatoes is just growing the right variety and cutting them into right sizes, boil them for a few minutes and have your parboiled potatoes which the women who sell potatoes in Serenje can do. Those potatoes will certainly fetch much more that the ones they sale unprocessed.
Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) has become very politicised. This is partly the reason we have not been able to reap the dividends of agriculture. Under our leadership FISP will change significantly to its original purpose, of supporting vulnerable but viable farmers while those that are not viable but vulnerable will be put on a social cash transfer. This way FISP will be sustainable and besides with all its inefficiencies, which farmer would want to wait for FISP if they can make profit from their business, they would simply reinvest their profits. However, once we have dealt with middle men and corruption in this sector, costs of production will reduce while productivity will go up.
When I say productivity what do I mean? Currently the average production of maize per hectare is 46 bags of 50kg. If we reskilled our farmers with production techniques via a robust extension services system, this can easily go to 100 bags (50kg) a hectare while production costs remain the same. Let us say for argument’s sake, production costs per hectare of maize is five thousand kwacha. It means currently, at 46 bags it works out to K108.69/50kg bag. While retraining the farmer using an agriculture extension system will mean each bag will cost 50 kwacha to produce once production goes up to 100 bags a hectare. This is even before we address the cost of inputs. Trust we can do this and it has been done by other countries with worse weather conditions than Zambia.
Let’s keep talking.
- Create Jobs / Business Opportunity
- Reduce Inequality
- Educate & Empower
- Electrify Zambia
- Improve Competitiveness
- Cut Government Waste
- Agriculture Development
- Stable & Consistent Policies
- A Healthy Nation
- Good Governance
1. CREATE A STABLE & CONSISTENT POLICY ENVIRONMENT WHILE IN GOVERNMENT.UPND will be a partner of business for the long term, attracting investment and supporting the growth of local business.
1.1. UPND will ensure and review policies that are not consistent, unfavourable to the country be it business, justice, human rights, media, environment and will enact thoroughly thought out well researched policies that will contribute to human development and economic growth. Fiscal and monetary policies are important to help organisations plan
2. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. UPND will focus on key sectors such as Agriculture, Mining, Tourism and Construction sectors including service sectors that should spur economic development and job creation. These sectors will allow hard working citizens and investors to unleash their potential and exploit opportunities while government provides a conducive environment. By growing the economy and focusing on lowering the cost of living, ensuring food security and increasing support for the disadvantaged.
2.1. IMPROVE COMPETITIVENESS and make it easier to do business by cutting red tape (licenses, permits, delivery timeframes) and improving trade and transport links.
2.2. LOWERING COST OF DOING BUSINESS; Reduction in corporate tax to circa 25%, managing the fuel procurement process to help lower fuel costs etc.
2.3. Focusing on lowering cost of production, improve productivity, crop diversification, livestock disease control, improved extension services, GO Commercial schemes to ensure farmers graduate from e-FISP, Research and Development and Value-addition. This is the basis for the agribusiness and other manufacturing industry to grow that will contribute to job creation and increase in tax base.
2.4. The use of Cooperative society model to create jobs and growing the emergent farmers group
2.5. Empowering Small, Medium enterprises in Mining, Construction and tourism to ensure access to equipment, finance, incentives to grow these sectors and encourage partnerships in ventures between local and foreign businesses.
2.6. UPND will brand Zambia to the local and foreign tourists through the use of national identity symbols. This will help market products like;
a. Aqua tourism
b. Forest and Bush tourism
c. Urban Tourism
d. Lake tourism
e. Countrywide tourism
All these activities will and can create sustainable jobs
UPND believes that with an improved economic base this will now lead to support the social sectors;
3. EDUCATE AND EMPOWER our population especially the youth by ensuring better access to affordable education, supporting vocational training and facilitating top-class affordable college and university education.
3.1. Ensuring that all those who failed in Grade 7,9 and 12 are given an opportunity to obtain a skill/trade that will help them exploit an opportunity in life. Re-align secondary school syllabus to allow pupils to specialise.
3.2. Continuously invest in education infrastructure, human resource, school materials, and transform some colleges especially in health and agriculture sciences into universities.
3.3. Empower the youths through deliberate procurement policies, business opportunities by teaming up for any work or services to be provided
3.4. Review grant mechanisms with improved release of funding to tertiary institutions.
4. ELECTRIFY ZAMBIA through better management of our existing facilities, increased investment, diversifying our energy portfolio, managing our water resources, and reducing the lead-time on key projects.
5. HEALTH AND NUTRITION.UPND believes a healthy nation is a more productive nation. UPND will improve health care delivery system through investments in infrastructure, improved nutrition, disease prevention, training more healthcare professionals and community health care providers and improved access to cheaper medicines.
5.1. Investment in infrastructure
5.2. Investment in training human resource to reduce patient ratio
5.3. Improvement in drug procurement and supply chain management
5.4. Investment in equipment to ensure at least district hospitals are supported
5.5. Health education to ensure disease prevention and mental health awareness
5.6. Research and development to support health care management, medical and health insurance will be supported.
6. CUT GOVERNMENT WASTE and invest the money saved into healthcare, education and other services i.e. be prudent in procurement and fight corruption.
6.1. Zero tolerance to corruption and making corruption-non bailable
6.2. Reasonable government transport system will be implemented
6.3. Ensuring that procured goods are accounted for
6.4. Government through IDC will only invest in sectors or companies with a strong ROI potential
7. GOOD GOVERNANCE and the protection of the rule of law, rights and freedoms of all Zambians will be the foundation of our socio-economic development, operational autonomy to oversight institutions so that they operate professionally and independently.
7.1. Run an open Government that will view and treat advise from and work with the various stake holders in civil society in areas of policy and programme implementation as true partners in development;
7.2. Ensure that all agreed or approved projects and programmes are implemented rigorously in an efficient, cost effective and timely manner;
7.3. Ensure that Government retains particular oversight and involvement (where necessary in partnership with the private/public sectors) in resources/assets such as energy, oil and gas for strategic and revenue for developmental reasons;
7.4. Provide clear and effective guidelines for domestic and external debt contraction, utilization and control in order to practice ‘responsible borrowing’. UPND will re-align any necessary borrowing from consumption to investment and other productive activities in order to enhance the country’s capacity to pay back loans.
8. LAND AND FORESTRY MANAGEMENT Land belongs to Zambians. The UPND will offer improved land management and delivery system and will guarantee access to land to Zambians including those who live outside the country to build houses, factories and industries on, grow food and for other productive use such as security for loan financing.
8.1. Better land use planning (master and specific use plans including roads and bridges),
8.2. Quick processing (approval or rejection) of applications for titling, adequate monitoring and control of plan implementation at local and district planning.
8.3. In consultation with traditional authorities make more land for development while ensuring land security for rural populations.
9. LABOUR UPND shall in appreciation of the workforce will be introducing policies that lead to paying workers what they truly deserve and rewarding them for their service to this nation. To do this, our approach is as follows:
9.1. We shall support better and sustainable labour and investment relations by fostering a genuine tripartite partnership involving workers (labour), employers (investment) and Government(regulator).
9.2. Reduce the retirement age to 55 years and ensure that all retirees get their retirement package on the last day of working. This will also facilitate career enhancement for many and provide financial counselling.
9.3. We will reduce unnecessary expenditures that will reduce the need to tax workers at current exorbitant rates of 37.5%.
9.4. We will create a professional civil service that will have access to Government initiated career enhancing acquisition of skills to increase productivity.
9.5. UPND shall endeavor to end or discourage practices such as casualization.
9.6. UPND shall have a labour friendly tax regime that will ensure that companies pay a LIVING wage, not to be confused with a MINIMUM wage
9.7. Zambia needs a responsible and fair social security system that provides security when people lose their jobs or are medically discharged, as well as a decent income when they retire. Zambians by nature and largely due to our strong religious belief always believed in the principle of contribution, sharing, giving, helping others get back on their feet, and providing support in times of need.
10. INDUSTRIALISATION AND EMPLOYMENT.
As long as Zambia continues being an import based economy, it is going to remain a struggling economy. There are a lot of products that Zambia can manufacture locally that we are currently importing. These range from basic commodities to sophisticated equipment that we can manufacture here or at the very least manufacture components of them. For instance why are we importing brake pads, when the men at Bauleni market and in Chimwemwe in Kitwe can bond brakes at 20% the cost of new brake pads?
As UPND we are aware of the value of manufacturing to our economy. In the current structure of our economy, manufacturing cannot be supported. The cost
of production related to fuels and electricity. This high cost of borrowing has a direct bearing on our competitive advantage in the region and beyond. UPND shall create an environment where interest rates do not strangle the manufacturing sector.
10.1. UPND will promote rapid industrialisation in all sectors of the economy to promote employment through job creation. This will be done through:
10.2. Implementation of a clear industrial policy that will fix the resourcing through manufacturing related incentives.
10.3. Amendment of the ZDA Act to make it more responsive to the current business environment especially PPPs.
10.4. Setting up a business development for start-up business and capitalisation of existing ones for all Zambians wishing to enter business.
10.5. Working with business to promote raw material processing with particular emphasis on increasing Zambian exports through regional and international trade to support growth objectives.
10.6. As a consequence, Government shall provide market access enable businesses to exploit regional and other international trade opportunities;
10.7. improving Zambia’s business climate to promote private and public investments for growth; 10.9 Aggressively and tirelessly working to redress various constraints to business development and social progress. This shall include cutting to minimum the current excessive bureaucracy in various Government and public institutions by setting minimum delivery standards for efficiency such as license or permit issuance within a set time frame, foster attitude change among staff to facilitate and promote the concept of partnership.