GOVERNMENT is in the process of merging the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) and Public Private Partnership Unit to establish an Industrial Development Commission which will enhance capacity for the country's economic development, President Michael Sata has said.
The President said Zambia had a huge backlog of development arrears which would require persistent efforts from all Zambians to reduce the high levels of poverty estimated at 60 per cent and reaching 80 per cent in the rural areas.
Speaking at the 8th Zambia International Business Advisory Council (ZIBAC) meeting in Lusaka yesterday, Mr Sata said the country had a huge backlog of development arrears that needs to be tackled inmmediately to reduce poverty.
"Growth rates in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) terms of five to seven per cent need to be raised. We also need well structured growth in order to make a meaningful impact on poverty reduction and ultimate eradication," Mr Sata said, in a speech read for him by Vice-President Guy Scott.
He said the much talked about high growth rates had not resulted in the much needed goal of poverty reduction because they stem from an enclave mineral sector without meaningful linkages with other sectors.
"My Government in its deliberate efforts to correct the imbalance has embarked on a wide range of efforts to diversify the economy.
"In this regard, my Government will focus on removing constraints facing the business sector which include high compliance costs, low skill levels and access to markets, as well as lack of finance, appropriate technology and quality business infrastructure in rural areas," he said.
Mr Sata said the budget presented by the Minister of Finance last month had measures to reduce import duty taxes to stimulate the economy.
He said tax parameters, including those that relate to the mining industry, had been maintained at reasonable levels.
Corporate tax for agriculture and agro processing is at a low level of 10 per cent and Mr Sata said the Government would continue to invest in the construction of roads, rail, airports, border facilities, power stations and information and communication technology infrastructure to support trade and investment.
"Unlike in the past when we waited for external charity, we are now taking the initiative while we enlist external assistance and partnerships," he said.
Mr Sata said in order to enhance the country's capacity for economic development, the Government was in the process of merging the Zambia Development Agency and Public Private Partnership Unit to establish the industrial commission that would accelerate the upgrading of the industrial structure.
He also said the ZIBAC meetings had their origin in helping Zambia involve the private sector to the fullest in the accelerated development of the country.