August 23, 2005, Zambia Daily Mail

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has advised Government to scrutinize activities of invetment agencies before the establishment of the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) to foster foreign investments in the country.

And Government has said it realises the importance of attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) as a pre-requisite to enhanced economic development.

UNCTAD chief policy review section, division on investment, technology and enterprise development, Taffere Tosfachew, said Government’s concept was in the right direction but needed thorough study to ensure ZDA was effective.

He was speaking at a stakeholders workshop on movement policy review for Zambia held at international Hotel in Lusaka yesterday organized by the Ministry of commerce, trade and industry. UNCTAD and Consumer Unity Trust Society-Africa Resource Centre.

The meeting was attended by Government department and the private sector.

Mr. Tesfachew said merging of Zambia investment Centre (ZIC) Export Board of Zambia and the Zambia Processing Zones Authority was meant to streamline resources but that each of the three institutions should be carefully looked at before the merger.

Mr. Tesfachew said policies that gave conflicting signals should be avoided but there should be a drive to attract potential attract potenti8al stragey into investor tracking system as well as elaborate investor targeting strategy, continuous review and bench marking of FDI attractiveness of target sectors.

He pointed out that Government should strengthen the advocacy role of ZIC by developing an after-care programme to provide reinvestment.

“We do know that there is a lot of talk on ZDA. We do not know how this will go,” he said.

And Commerce Minister, Dipak Patel, said all efforts aimed at attracting foreign investors and mobilizing local investment had become Government’s development programmes.

Mr. Patel said it was Government’s policy to promote private sector participation in the country’s economy because it viewed the private sector at an engine of economic development.

To achieve this, Government had endeavored to create a conducive investment climate in which all businesses operated freely.

“So far the Zambian economy was one of the most liberal economics in the region, characte3rised by the most liberal fiscal policy, no foreign exchange controls and investors are free to externalize their profits as they wish,” he said.

He said currently the Investment Act and the Industrial, commercial and trade policy were being reviewed top make them meet the current developmental challenges and economic climate.

This included, among others, resolutions of administrative barriers and the uncompetitive costs of doing business in the country.