Government Ran Out Of Finances For Projects – Musokotwane

FINANCE minister Situmbeko Musokotwane says the country has a backlog
of infrastructure development that needs to be addressed immediately.

Musokotwane said in interview that the government was unable to find
money to offset the backlog that had characterised almost all the
towns in the country hence the move to channel mining taxes towards
infrastructure.

He justified the government’s move to use the money that it would
recover from First Quantum Minerals in unpaid mining taxes for
developing infrastructure in the country.

“We had no confidence that the money would come from the mines. Now
that they will pay us, the money from FQM will go to infrastructure
development because we all know that we have a backlog in terms of
infrastructure,” Musokotwane said.

He said the money would be used to build roads and improve existing
infrastructure in the country.

He said infrastructure was important to any country as it also played
an important role in the economy.

FQM would start paying tax arrears to the Zambian government after an
agreement was reached on new tax measures that were introduced in
2008.

In 2008 the government introduced new tax measures for the mines which
included among them increasing mineral royalty from 0.6 per cent to 3
per cent and company tax from 25 per cent to 30 per cent a move that
mining firms opposed.

However, Musokotwane recently announced that the government and the
mining companies had reached an agreement for mining firms to start
paying the tax in arrears.

He said FQM would pay the government US $224 million most of which he
said would be used for infrastructure development.

Musokotwane was reacting to concerns raised by civil society
organisations over the use of funds on projects that were not budgeted
for.

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