Posted by Benson on September 25, 2017

 

Finance Minister Felix Mutati met with the Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) on Thursday 21st September, to discuss some expected salient agriculture matters in the budget.

The ZNFU and its affiliate associations briefed the minister that it was grateful that government has identified agriculture to drive the country’s diversification agenda, but needs incentives to actualize the agenda.

Leading the ZNFU, Union president Jervis Zimba said to make agriculture the lynchpin of the economy, government should create a deliberate policy that would make agriculture competitive. He said this would translate into lowering the cost of production, increase duty on some imported agricultural products to level the playing field with the local market, and refencing and actualizing funds that include; aquaculture fund, irrigation Fund and mechanization Fund. The ZNFU also called for investment in research and extension services and strengthening of inspectorate systems.

The Union also called for the tax incentivization of agriculture activities that would translate into increased production and improved productivity and hedge against imports that threaten to reverse growth of the local agriculture. The Union said this would spur the creation of employment locally, and in turn broaden the tax base.

The Union said to achieve most of these targets, government has to consider ‘melting away’ the red tape encountered when trying to implement these programs.

And Finance Minister, Mr. Mutati said government will do its very best to embrace issues tabled by the Union.

He, however, said he needed additional information that would be crystalized into actual activities, but maintained that these incentives would have to be a compensational, in that they should;

  1. Represent a broader view of majority farmers and associations
  2. Create jobs
  3. Bring in other tax earnings, when incentives are given

“We don’t want to create ornaments instead of instruments,” Mr. Mutati said.

He asked the Union to submit the additional information before the close of business on Thursday so that his team could ‘assimilate’ critical areas from farmers.

He said government has now focused on domestic revenue collection and is cutting down on borrowing and wanted to avoid ‘enemies’ to this process that include anti-tax and calls for exemptions. 

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