Minister of Finance Felix Mutati says only five out of the 38 parastatal companies in Zambia have been returning dividends to government.

Speaking when he received a K5 million dividend cheque from the National Airports Corporation limited at his office today, Mutati regretted the failure by most parastatals to pay dividends to government saying it was putting a burden on the national treasury.

“We have been very clear as government that parastatal corporations should not create a burden on the Treasury, they must be able to stand on their own feet at the very least but beyond that, be able to dispatch dividend such as the one we have received this morning. Colleagues, you have noticed that in the 2018 budget we have not provided for the recapitalization of parastatals [but] what we are going to is to restructure those that have got a semblance of liability but those that won’t have life, we might be able to take alternative decisions,” Mutati said.

Asked if he could name the five parastatals which were paying dividends, Mutati said his ministry would soon call for press conference to announce them.

“What has happened today shows that even a parastatal that is better managed can be able to deliver dividends, it should not be only those companies where we are minority shareholders as government where we should receive dividends. We should also be able to receive dividends from fully owned companies by government. Let it be more the norm rather than rare. I can only count on my five fingers the parastatals that are dispatching dividends out of the 38. So you can see that we still have a big job that we should be able to do. What I am going to do about the five is that we shall have a session where we are going to deal with the restructuring of the parastatals and we are going to call a specific press conference so that we can be able to outline the other measures that we are taking in some of the parastatals so we do a composite statement,” said Mutati.

Mutati said he was confident that domestic revenue collection would exceed the 2017 budget.

“We are very focused as government particularly for 2017 that our domestic revenue collection should be able at the very minimum exceed the budget for 2017, we are fairly on target and part of us being able to exceed the target is the receipt of dividends. So it will add to those numbers as we build them up to the end of the year,” said Mutati.

Mutati however refused to comment on the recent IMF revelations that Zambia has the highest debt in the Sub-Saharan region saying his permanent secretary already gave government’s position on the matter.

Meanwhile, Transport and Communications Minister Brian Mushimba said he had signed a revised version of Statutory Instrument number 76 of 2016 which restricted night driving of public vehicles to separate the passenger public transportation from the trucking industry.

“I would like to report to the media that yesterday I did sign the revised SI 76 of 2016 which separates passenger public transportation from the trucking industry and the trucks that support the economy by transporting Cargo and many other inputs are going to be allowed access to the road 24 hours and seven days a week, there condition which they will meet through RTSA and an application they have to put through RTSA and all this has been communicated to them during the consultations programmes that we have been having and they are aware and so I am now just encouraging them to get back onto the roads so that they can support this growing economy,” said Mushimba

And Airports Corporations Limited Board Chairperson Milingo Lungu expressed confidence that the Corporation would soon become an aviation powerhouse on the continent with the support that government was giving.

“As we embark on our new five year Strategic Plan, 2017 – 2021, we are confident in our resolve to become an aviation powerhouse on the African continent. Government has undertaken several aviation developmental projects at an investment of over US$ 1 billion. These include projects at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport which continue to progress well with the completion date earmarked for October 2019, while the construction of the new Copperbelt International Airport in Ndola has also commenced following the official Ground Breaking Ceremony for the project which took place in June this year,” said Milingo.

“Further, in a bid to upgrade infrastructure at Mfuwe International Airport, the contract for the construction of the new Mfuwe International Airport has been signed with China Complete Engineering. However, funds to commence works are still awaited. We request that the funds be sourced so that the project may commence as soon as possible.”