Govt red tape can be hindrance to business progression – Mweetwa

SOUTHERN Province minister Cornelius Mweetwa says President Hakainde Hichilema’s vision for job creation cannot happen if there is no proper interaction and coordination with the business and farming community who are the major drivers.

He noted that government red tape “sometimes can be a hindrance to quick progression of business”.

Addressing the business and farming community in Choma, Mweetwa said the Head of State doesn’t want his ministers to do business as usual of sitting in offices and signing documents without people on the ground knowing what their office bearers they elected were making on their behalf.

“President Hakainde Hichilema’s vision anchored on job creation especially for young people cannot happen if there is no proper interaction and coordination with the business and farming community who are the primary drivers for job creation,” he said.

Mweetwa said President Hichilema wants people at local level who were the drivers of the economy to be involved so that together they can prescribe possible solutions to challenges they were facing if it required governmental action.

“President Hichilema directed us ministers to interact with people on the grassroots and ask you to come up with priority of things that you deem fit that government must attend to so that if it is Choma Central or Kalomo we are able to bargain well and see what can be done first and later,” he said. “This translates into constituency annual budget to be surrendered to central government for consideration so that we can match priority preference to attendant funding.”

Mweetwa said going forward it was President Hichilema’s view and vision to diversify in a more meaningful and genuine manner the economy of the country.

He said this meant moving away from the monopoly of dominance of mining into agriculture hence the meeting with the business and farming community to talk about what can be done to better the situation as well as the business environment.

He said the UPND-led government would undertake inclusive governance.

“I’m aware of issues of bureaucracy in obtaining licences for trading, corruption in obtaining authorities in…licences, issues to do with length/ period to obtain title deeds, a document which entitles one therefore to even acquire a loan and any other issues you think we need to act on as provincial administration,” Mweetwa said. “Government red tape sometimes can be a hindrance to quick progression of business.”

He charged that corruption within government red tape had potential and tendency to make the environment for doing business expensive retards development.

And Mweetwa said the government was saddened with the growing crime in farms in the province.

“The provincial administration is aware that there are armed criminals attacking farmers. The councillors reported that matter to me and we will act,” said Mweetwa.

Fred Hamaundu, representing agro-dealers, complained that the previous government made them purchase inputs at higher prices.

“We have about 2,500 agro-dealers in the province. Us, agro-dealers in the province bought inputs at higher prices and were rushed to do that by the former regime,” disclosed Hamaundu. “Agro dealers employ a number of workers. Our request is to be given direction. We are lost according to rumours on social media about where we are going.”

Meanwhile, transport sector representative Constance Hambelele complained of higher taxes.

“We are being heavily taxed on transport. We go to RATSA we pay road tax. Our vehicles go on the road we still pay tax in toll fees. We go to the fuel pump we are still charged a lot for fuel. As a community since we have started together it is our concern that these taxes be revised. We have stretched our pockets. Whatever comes we push in little resources, we are squeezed up,” he lamented.

Hambelele said the transport sector was badly hit such that even prices for tyres were too high.

And Choma mayor Javern Simoloka assured the business and farming community in the district of a listening ear to their concerns.

“As Choma municipal council our doors remain open to you our people. We will operate on an open door policy so that we can offer you the best services,” said Simoloka.

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