The Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry says it is still facing challenges in implementing government’s agenda in industrialising Zambia due to insufficient funding.

But the Ministry says it is partnering with stakeholders to tackle its financial challenges.

Responding to a press query, Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry Permanent Secretary Kayula Siame stated that the Ministry was still facing challenges of insufficient funding to fully and effectively execute part of its mandate, which involves creating an enabling environment to industrialise Zambia’s economy.

Siame was reacting to a statement from the Policy Monitoring and Research Centre (PMRC) issued earlier this month, urging the Ministry to invest in capacity-building for the country in order to compete on the continental market.

“As you are aware, the government is implementing some austerity measures, hence the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry is experiencing low levels of funding from the Treasury. However, the Ministry is working with cooperating partners in addressing this challenge,” Siame explained.

“The Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry is an arm of the government charged with the responsibility of formulating and administering policies regulating activities in the commercial, trade and industrial sectors in order to enhance the sector’s contribution to sustainable social economic growth and development for the benefit of the people and Zambia.”

She added that the Ministry was implementing policies that the would initiate Zambia’s industrialisation agenda.

“To facilitate Zambia’s industrialization agenda, the Ministry developed, and is implementing the flowing policies: the national industrial policy; the micro, small and medium enterprise development policy; the national quality policy; the national investment strategy and the national local content strategy,” stated Siame.

“Therefore, supporting industrialization through the Ministry could result in the effective implementation of the above policies and strategies and lead to the attainment of government’s industrialization agenda.”

According to the Ministry’s 2017 Annual Report, reduced funding from government and under-staffed workforce have contributed to stagnant progress in some developmental projects.

Despite having a budget allocation of K265.1 million in 2017, only K233.8 million was released from the Treasury, meaning the Ministry incurred a shortfall of over K31 million.