UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema says it is now abundantly clear for all to see that the PF government’s “poisonous New Year gift” of a heavy tax burden is destroying jobs and businesses in an already “distressed” Zambia.
Hichilema explained that the UPND’s rank and file had, time and again, advised the PF regime that excessive taxes were destructive to both the people and economy but “to no avail.”
“From the vantage point of knowledge we, HH, UPND and other experts, have for a long time rendered free advice that multiple and excessive taxes injure both our people and the economy alike but this greedy and corrupt PF leadership is not listening,” he charged.
“It is now abundantly clear for all to see that the PF regime’s poisonous New Year gift of a heavy tax burden is destroying jobs and businesses in our already distressed country. For a long time now, this is what some of us knew would happen sooner or later. It is called vision or ichimonwa, which PF lacks in a large measure.”
Hichilema reiterated that Zambians across the country should unite in “supporting the UPND team and other citizens of goodwill for us to” take Zambia out of the PF inflicted damage and pain.
He added that unity of purpose, good visionary leadership, and courage would help millions of socially and economically distressed citizens out of “this mess.”
Hichilema pointed out that as things stood under the “clueless hyena/Chimbwi No Plan (CNP)” PF regime, many businesses, including mines, were being taxed to a point of shrinking their operations to a minimum (care and maintenance) or even possible closure.
“The resultant effect of this negative development includes huge job losses in an economy which overall is not creating new jobs for the youth and other citizens who need income the most. For instance, the ill-conceived newly introduced five per cent import duty on concentrates will result in the scale down of operations at the KCM plant in Chingola,” Hichilema explained, adding that the impending negative development would result in loss of many jobs and other negative effects on business.
“[At] First Quantum Minerals (FQM), Solwezi, over 1,000 jobs will be lost with substantial pain occasioned to families and related businesses in Solwezi, North Western Province and other parts of Zambia.”
Hichilema stressed that all problems in the mining sector would arise because of the PF government-driven new high and destructive tax menu and non-refund of US$400 million which “the PF regime owes to FQM.”
“We should all remember that many other businesses, including local ones, are owed money directly or indirectly under this VAT refund mess,” he said.
And Hichilema noted that the many other job and business losses which were causing untold misery to Zambians should squarely be blamed on the PF government’s “lack of vision, incompetence and greed, which is fueling corruption to levels never seen before in our country.”
The opposition leader said despite all the pain that Zambians were currently enduring under the “uncaring and brutal hands of PF”, it was important to remain strong and retain hope.
“The UPND have a solution to this PF inflicted mess. In government, the UPND will lower the tax burden for our people and businesses, including removing the five per cent import duty on concentrates, removing the withholding tax on rentals and other costly and unnecessary taxes, licences and levies, drop the multiple/compound effect sales tax and revert to VAT at reduced rates,” Hichilema pledged.
“UPND will lower both the cost of living and doing business by reducing the cost of fuel, reducing the cost of electricity, among other cost reduction measures.”
Hichilema further highlighted anticipated benefits to Zambians of the UPND government’s measures.
“These will include protecting/preserving the current few jobs and businesses; creating more jobs and business opportunities; economic expansion and development, leading to more jobs, business consolidation and growth in number and scale, local and others,” Hichilema explained.
“This will also lead to improved public revenue generation ability which will improve our capacity to provide social support to the youth, the sick, the old, orphaned children and those with disabilities and from poor/ disadvantaged families.”
Meanwhile, Hichilema said the UPND believed that it was not possible to achieve any meaningful and sustainable job creation, business growth and economic development when a government like the PF had taken money or resources, through over-taxation and corruption, away from the efficient hands of individual citizens and businesses.
“[They have] placed it into the hands of a few, greedy and corrupt PF officials and politicians who are inherently incapable of exercising any kind of honest and prudence in resource utilisation or management,” said Hichilema.