Professor Saasa says PF govt intention to ban raw copper exports is unrealistic

Local Economist Oliver Saasa says it will be unrealistic for government to ban the exportation of raw copper as it accounted for a major stake of the country’s export revenue.
Reacting to Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister Bob Sichinga’s recent statement that Government will ban firms exporting raw copper as a way of encouraging value addition to the commodity, Professor Saasa said Zambia was not yet at a level where it can process its copper to add value to it.
He told ZANIS in an interview in Lusaka today that as much as there was need to encourage value addition to products in the country, people needed to be realistic with what they were capable of doing.
Prof. Saasa stated that the country has not yet reached the level of industrialization and technological advancement that can enable it process the over 700, 000 metric tonnes of copper cathodes it produces.
He further stated that halting the exportation of raw copper could hurt the country’s export earnings, saying the exports of raw copper contributes about 70 percent of the country’s export revenue.
The renowned economist stated that Government needs to be realistic with its expectations, adding that it should align its expectations to its capacity in order to get what it wants.
Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister Bob Sichinga yesterday stated that Government would ban firms exporting raw copper as a way of encouraging value addition to the commodity.
Mr. Sichinga said there was need for Government to promote value addition to copper, hence the move to stop the exportation of raw copper.
Meanwhile, Prof. Saasa has expressed concern at the foreign holdings of Zambian debt which is reported to have fallen to their lowest since 2005.
He said foreign holdings of a country’s debt were one of the economic fundamentals as they signal the start of foreign direct investment to any country.
Prof. Saasa stated that the reduction in foreign holdings of Zambian debt was indicative that the country had started losing potential investors who could have come to invest in the country.
He said it was time that the country started examining where it had gone wrong in so far as attracting Foreign Direct Investment is concerned in order to sustain and grow the economic milestones the nation has achieved over the years.
Prof. Saasa urged government to send the correct policy signals to assure investors that Zambia was still the best investment destination in Africa.

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