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Harrington calls for tax incentives to encourage alternative energy use

THE UPND government should seriously consider introducing budgetary tax incentives to encourage use of alternative sources of energy to charcoal, says William Harrington.

In a statement, the environmental activist and former minister of environment in the Frederick Chiluba government encouraged finance minister Situmbeko Musokotwane to increase budgetary allocation to the environmental sector if socio-economic development is to be attained.

Harrington said Dr Musokotwane should also introduce duty-free importation of LPG cylinders and related equipment so that they are not only available but also affordable to the majority citizens especially those who rely on charcoal for domestic use.

“The UPND government should introduce a deliberate policy to discourage the use of charcoal for domestic and other purposes through maintenance of appropriate levies,” he said. “Sadly, Zambia is losing hundreds of acres of forest cover annually through deforestation for charcoal production and this we just allow to continue. High unemployment levels and average 60 per cent poverty at household level in the country has made charcoal production an attractive and lucrative business for many people.”

Harrington added that the high and unaffordable cost of electricity from Zesco is not helping the situation.

He noted that with the status quo, the country was under threat of irreversible desertification and the negative effects of climate change.

“Indeni Oil Refinery at Ndola on the Copperbelt is discharging and burning thousands of tonnes of LPG into the atmosphere annually. The wasted gas can and indeed must be harnessed and supplied at a nominal fee or even free-of-charge to citizens. This will go a long way in saving our forest resource in the medium to long-term. I believe that introduction of tax incentives can work wonders in achieving certain objectives, Harrington suggested. “One can cite for example, my proposal as then minister of communication and transport in the Chiluba government to introduce duty-free importation of passenger busses following the liquidation of the loss-making and mismanaged parastatal United Bus Company of Zambia (UBZ). Today, public transport is no longer a challenge for the traveling citizens and is a legacy for which I feel truly proud [of].”

He said what is needed now more urgently than ever before is political will to address the mounting challenges in the environmental sector through introduction of progressive budgetary tax measures failure to which posterity will judge the country harshly.

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