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Saturday, 18 April 2015

Changing the Retiriment Age in Zambia

Editor's note: This is a guest post by Henry Kyambalesa, a resident contributor to Zambian Economist. He is a Zambian academic currently residing in Colorado, USA. The article makes some observations on the changes to the retirment age.
In November 2014, Acting President Guy L. Scott signed Statutory Instrument No. 63 of 2014 that raised the retirement age from 55 to 65 years, or 35 years of service.

In December 2014, the Minister of Labor and Social Security is quoted by Doreen Nawa of the Zambia Daily Mail as having defended the change in the country’s retirement age as follows: “We adjusted the retirement age as a way of increasing people’s life span. Information has shown that most people that have retired at 55 have died earlier because of many factors.”

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Election Musings

President Lungu this week delivered a blow to the opposition with three convincing parliamentary wins in his first electoral test as President. The PF won parliamentary by-elections in Chawama, Masaiti and Senga Hill and also picked a big chunk of ward victories held in various parts of the country.

Lawrence Sichalwe (Chawama) polled 7, 500 with closest rival UPND Charles Kaselwa polling 3, 200. Michael Katambo (Masaiti) polled 5,000 against closest rival UPND Peter Mumba polling 2,150. Kapembwa Simbao (Senga Hill) polled over 8500 against his closest rival who polled around 4700.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Mining Tax Reversal, 3rd Edition

Reports are emerging that Government has indeed reverted to the 2014 two-tier mining tax regime which was abolished in the 2015 Budget. However, the mineral royalties will now be set at at 9 percent for both open-pit and underground mines. Reuters are quoting a “source in the presidency”.

The 2014 two-tier mining tax regime consists of the mineral royalty tax (now at 9%), corporate income tax and profit variable tax. Crucially it allows for capital allowances and carry forward of losses which substantially eliminates potential taxable profits.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Mining Tax Reversal, 2nd Edition

President Lungu is in the process of tabling a revised Budget as Cabinet abandons elements of the Sata mining fiscal regime following pressures from mining companies. Full press statement from the Lungu administration below :
Cabinet has today approved changes to the Mineral Royalty Tax regime and His Excellency Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia directed ministers to bring to Cabinet next Monday details to be presented to Parliament for approval.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Justice in Zambia (Prisons, Police, Legal Aid)

The Legal and Justice Sector Reform Commission set up by former Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba is still seating and continues to receive some interesting submissions. Bishop Davies Malulu (Kabwe) recently told the Commission that “there is need to abandon the dress code [of judges] inherited from colonial masters and instead come up with one reflecting the Zambian identity and character.” [Source: Lusaka Times]

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) says over 80% percent of accused persons at pre-trial stage do access bond or bail despite facing baillable or bondable offences “due to ignorance”. The situation has resulted in overcrowding of detention facilities, thereby exposing inmates to inhuman and degrading conditions against international standards. Inadequacies in the penal laws such as absence of proper guidelines in the exercise of discretion on the part of the court or police when granting bail or bond contributes to increased pre-trial cases. [Source: Daily Mail]

Monday, 6 April 2015

Zambia Standard & Poor Rating (March 2015)

Editor's note: Standard and Poor a week ago affirmed Zambia's credit rating at 'B+', and kept its outlook on negative based on fiscal and external risks.
Overview
  • We continue to believe that Zambia’s institutional strengths and solid growth prospects remain sufficient to offset increasing short-term fiscal and external challenges.
  • However, we consider that policy-making could be constrained by political considerations, preventing the final resolution of key fiscal uncertainties, which could add to copper-price led currency depreciation and external pressure.
  • We are affirming our 'B+/B' sovereign credit ratings on Zambia.
  • The outlook remains negative, reflecting increasing uncertainty over Zambia's management of public finances and external accounts.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Social Cash Transfer (Progress Update)

Editor's note: The following is statement from the Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health Emerine Kabanshi MP on the scaling up of the social cash transfer programme. We have made minor edits to ease reading.
I would like to thank you for according me this opportunity to give a ministerial statement on the progress made in the scaling up the Social Cash Transfer Programme. Allow me to provide some general information to the House about the Social Cash Transfer Programme in Zambia before I give an account of our initiative to scale it up.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Diaspora Policy Formulation

Editor's note: The following is a recent ministerial statement from Foreign Affairs Minister Harry Kalaba on the proposed diaspora policy. There is nothing new in the statement except that Government is allegedly working on such a policy, with propomises of consultations. Previous governments have wasted money on trying to come up with a policy due to lack of cross party ownership. The Banda administration came with the disastrous diaspora desk which apart from achieving very little, except giving officials some foreign trips abroad, quickly sunk under the Sata administration. 
On 17th October, 2014, [the Ministry of Foreign Affairs] launched the Revised Foreign Policy which placed emphasis on economic diplomacy as opposed to political diplomacy. The launch of this document set a tone for Zambians living beyond our borders to participate effectively in the management and shaping of this country’s destiny. It was a call to patriotism, as patriotism knows no political or economic boundaries.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Parastatal Madness, 21st Edition

We have long observed that the failure of many government institutions to perform has largely been down to the failure by other parts of GRZ and the private sector to pay these governments institutions the debt owed to them. We usually refer to this problem as "parastatal madness". Here are some recent examples:

The National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA) is currently owed around K2.6 billion in outstanding contribution arrears and penalties by various GRZ institutions e.g. government ministries, grant-aided institutions, parastatals and councils. The non-payment and continuous delays in contributions, including failure to pay penalties continues to hamper the viability of the pension scheme. 10% of the debt is from arrears in statutory contributions and 90% is in statutory penalties.(Source: Times of Zambia)

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

The Second Machine Age (A Review)

By Chola Mukanga

Driveless cars, humanoid robots, 3D printers and the Internet of Things are just a few of the many technological developments that are increasingly converting science fiction into everyday reality. A recent book The Second Machine Age’ by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee argues that as extraordinary as these changes are, these are merely warm-up acts of a broader 'second machine age' that is already transforming us and is poised to sweep us off our feet in the near future!

The first machine age was characterized by muscle power epitomized by the steam engine and its descendants. In the second machine age, computers and other digital advances are increasing use of our brains, enabling us to understand and shape our environments. This is vast and unprecedented boost to mental power means that we are at an “inflection point” in the history of economies and societies. Crucially it is an inflection point in the right direction - bounty instead of scarcity, freedom instead of constraint. 

Three forces that are allegedly driving this new technological leap: exponential growth in computing power; growth in digitisation ; and, rapid innovation. The authors particularly believe that increases in Artificial Inteligence (AI) and ICT is accelerating, with the consequential impact of improving our health, labour productivity, economic prosperity and giving us a greater voice in the democratic process.