The Centre for Trade Policy and Development has asked government to make public the conditions under which Copperbelt Energy Corporation has agreed to restore normal power supply to Mopani Copper Mines.

In a statement today, Mwaipopo said the details in Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations Amos Chanda’s statement were not enough.

“CTPD would like to urge government and the Copperbelt Energy Cooperation (CEC) to make public the terms agreed between Mopani Copper Mines and the Copperbelt Energy Cooperation. While we appreciate that the two parties have reached an agreement following the President’s intervention, it is not enough. It would be good to also know the actual terms agreed so that the public can understand and monitor what has been agreed, in simple terms it would be good to know whether Mopani Copper Mines has agreed to adjust and start paying cost reflective tariffs like everyone else or not,” Mwaipopo stated.

“It is public knowledge what everyone else is paying on electricity following the 50% hike in tariffs three months ago, it is now also common knowledge that there are plans to further hike electricity tariffs by another 25%. It is unfortunate that the mines have continued being shielded from paying a fair share of what they consume and there is less information being shared with the public, especially on agreements signed with these firms.”

And Mwaipopo wondered why government was too flexible on big business like the mines where issues of tax compliance were concerned.

“The secrecy around some of these agreements is what contributes to the creation of an environment for easy manipulation and arm-twisting. The idea to reform Zambia’s energy sector is welcome and timely, though the Centre for Trade is deeply concerned that government’s firmness in the institution of these reforms only seems to apply to other domestic consumers than the mines, for instance, when tariffs where increased to 50 %, a number of consumers and small business enterprises raised concerns around the high tariffs as this was going to affect the cost of production, most of these concerns were ignored and the government put its feet on the ground, we wonder why that same level of firmness fails to apply when it comes to the mines,” he stated.

Mwaipopo stated that there was need for everyone to comply with tax obligations required in the country regardless of their status if Zambia was to develop.

“There are a number of incidents in the recent past that calls for serious reflections on the treatment Zambia accords to foreign investments when compared to local business players, cases in point include the manner in which the ZCCM/ FQM case was dropped as well as removal of the 7.5% revenue measure on the importation of copper concentrates from the national budget earlier this year. If Zambia is to develop, there is need to ensure that everyone makes a fair contribution, regardless of their status,” stated Mwaipopo.