COMESA Business Council (CBC) Board Director Roseta Chabala says high taxation, unfriendly business practices and repetitive processes have stifled the private sector’s ability to flourish.

Speaking at the ongoing CBC Zambia public-private dialogue in Lusaka yesterday, Chabala noted that there was need for increased private sector involvement in policy formulation.

“The public sector has a role in fostering an enabling environment for businesses and also in the development of the requisite infrastructure. At the same time, it is apparent that as businesses, we also have the role to play in investment and building our business,” Chabala said.

“Unfriendly business practices, high taxation, repetitive processes stifle the ability of the private sector to flourish, to contribute to investment, to propel public private partnership in the manner that fosters economic development.”

Chabala also said it was of paramount importance for national policies to inculcate strategies which explicitly dealt with the development and promotion of local businesses and industries.

“One of the main challenges to business friendly policy making processes is the issue of information. It is only through engagement that we can actually learn about one another, our needs and expectations,” Chabala said.

“The agenda before us captures some of the key impediments from a business and regulations, issues of import bans and trade restrictions, issues of affordable access to technology, access to affordable certification mechanisms, and improving the production capacities of our industries.”

She further said CBC did not have to remain the leading importer in the region with an import value of US$2 billion but there was need to improve the agriculture, manufacturing, and service competitiveness to obtain a trade balance when trading with partners in the region.

And speaking at the same event, Commerce Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe said government had negotiated for increased market access for Zambian products at regional and global level.

Mwanakatwe said the negotiations were done through the COMESA-SADC-EAC regional agreements.

And Mwanakatwe said her Ministry had developed the National Investment Promotion Strategy which envisioned the country as a competitive and preferred investment destination by 2021 through mobilizing and increasing actualized investments.

“To this end, my Ministry working in consultation with stakeholders has been developing and implementing policies and measures that reduce the cost of doing business, increase investment, facilitate trade, encourage citizen participation in the economic affairs of the country and most importantly improve the comprehensiveness of our economy,” said Mwanakatwe.

“The Ministry has further developed the National Industrial Policy whose thrust is industrialization through value addition to the abundant local raw materials and increased citizen participation.”

Mwanakatwe also urged CBC to focus its deliberations on finding comprehensive solutions to obstacles; which included defining the right infrastructure, policies, procedures, and capacity building to facilitate trade and promote regional growth.

The CBC Zambia public-private dialogue was held under the Theme: “Bringing Business to the table collaboration for growth.”