Zambia: CEEC to Fund Projects Linked to Industrial Clusters

THE Citizen Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) has resolved to only fund companies and cooperatives that are going to participate in the value chain industrial clusters, Commerce Trade and Industry Minister Robert Sichinga has said.

Mr Sichinga also said Government is next year expected to resume funding to the CEEC after several months of forensic audits to determine how the commission had disbursed the previous funds.

In an interview Mr Sichinga said the Citizens Economic Empowerment fund would consider funding the projects that are going to participate in the industrial clusters which government will embark on in all the provincial centres.

The Government is promoting the establishment of value chain industrial clusters and the Multi Facility Economic Zones (MFEZ) throughout the country to enable Zambia become an economic powerhouse.

Mr Sichinga said the new system in place would promote industrial activities particularly in the rural areas saying that, the country would be able to produce value added products.

He said the Government was focusing on establishing industrial clusters and the Multi Facility Economic Zones both in urban and rural areas hence the requirement that funding be given only to those participating in industrial clusters.

Mr Sichinga urged Micro, Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (MSMEs) to join business associations in the various districts in order for them to qualify for CEEC funding..

The minister announced that the Government was likely to resume finding to the commission as soon as the forensic audits were completed.

Early this year, Secretary to the Treasury Fredson Yamba suspended funding to the CEEC due to the failure to follow correct procedures in disbursing the empowerment funds.

Mr Sichinga said funding would only resume after the audit was completed adding that, a new system of operation on how the funds would be administered and disbursed had already been put in place.

In the 2013 National Budget the Government allocated K54 billion for the Empowerment Fund.

Mr Sichinga explained that since 2008 to-date the commission had disbursed a total of K206 billion to various sectors of the economy adding that, only 42 per cent of the loans were currently functioning.

"The commission had a very clear mandate of disbursing funds to the vulnerable who were supposed to be given priority. I am very disappointed with the way the funds were handled only 42 per cent of those loans are functioning," he said.

Mr Sichinga said out of the total K206 billion disbursed since 2008 to-date for the empowerment fund, only K84 billion was currently revolving.

In a separate interview in Lusaka, CEEC director general Likando Mukumbuta said the Commission would support Government's agenda in the industrialisation strategy to promote rural industrialisation.

Mr Mukumbuta said: "We are going to start disbursement in all provinces in 2013 targeting three districts and in each province, five industries would be created .By year three, every district will have beeen covered ."

He said the commission targets to raise and invest K100 billion adding that, the funds would be distributed in such a way that 90 per cent of the funds would go to the rural area.

Mr Mukumbuta explained that in each province, the commission would allocate K10 billion out of which K1 billion was for micro entrepreneurs and K9 billion was going into companies and cooperatives that are going to participate in the industrial clusters.

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