President Edgar Lungu has directed all relevant government departments and Ministries to ensure mining companies are not allowed to unjustifiably lay-off workers, says Amos Chanda.

And Chanda, who is President Lungu’s Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations, says the Head of State believes that mining companies’ rejection of the mining fiscal changes lacks merit.

Speaking to journalists shortly after President Lungu and other government officials attended Christmas Mass in Lusaka, Tuesday, Chanda revealed that the Head of State had directed all relevant government Ministries, such as Labour and Mines, to ensure that mining companies are prevented from unjustifiably firing workers following repeated threats of mass lay-offs.

The threats of downsizing follows significant changes to the mining fiscal regime, which will see an increase in mineral royalty rates by 1.5 percentage points at all levels of the sliding scale as contained in the 2019 national budget.

Mining companies have protested the imminent tax changes, which include the controversial Sales Tax that is due to take effect April 1, 2019.

“As of the unjustified threats in cuts of job numbers; the President has asked all officials: Labour Commissioner; Minister of Labour; Minister of Mines…to be on top of things and ensure that they are no unjustified decisions made by mining companies,” Chanda told journalists at Mary Magdalene Anglican Church.

And Chanda said that mining companies’ rejection of the imminent mining fiscal changes lacks merit.

He argued that if mining companies could be able to comply with tax legislation in other jurisdictions, such as the United States, which operates a Sales Tax, there was no reason why the same entities could fail to comply with Zambia’s laws.

“The government does not accept that a mining company that fully complies with Sales Tax in Australia, in the US, Canada would fail to comply with Sales Tax in Zambia? So, there is no merit in arguments like that,” insisted Chanda.

“If some mining companies, which are listed in Toronto, which are listed in Australia, which are listed in the US, can comply with Sales Tax in the US, Australia and Canada, how is that not tenable in the jurisdiction? There is no merit as things stand! The President does not see merit in the opposition to Sales Tax as things stand.”