The Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) has dispelled suggestions by Zambeef Plc that it charges exorbitant fees, which the company cited as having compelled it to pull out of Namwala District.

Reacting to the development where Zambeef pulled out its operations in Namwala District of Southern Province citing exorbitant fees charged by ZEMA amounting to K118,166 per annum, ZEMA director-general John Msimuko said the agency only collected K57,960 licence fees, translating to K19,320 per annum.

He added that the agency has had a positive relationship with Zambeef Plc to an extent that it has in the past awarded Zambeef for good performance.

Earlier, Zambeef general manager Murray Moore had written to Namwala member of parliament Moono Lubezhi informing her office that the company was pulling out its operations in the District because of the high license fees.

“Fee structure – not all the fees and levies are paid by Zambeef Products Plc (direct costs). Many of them are actually incurred by the supplier (indirect costs), but the end result is the same; an increase in the cost of doing business. Condemn – Namwala abattoir currently condemns significantly more offal products than any other Zambeef abattoir nationwide. This is surprising because Namwala animal husbandry is well ahead of any other cattle area in Zambia. The offal component is an important contributor to an abattoir’s profitability,” read Moore’s letter.

“ZEMA annual fees include: (a) Air emissions permit K8,333; (b) Air emission monitoring K67,200; (c) Effluent emissions permit K8,333; (d) Effluent monitoring K31,800; (e) Running of a dump site K2,000; and (f) Waste transport permit K500. Are these fees reasonable and are they being applied consistently across the District? Honourable, it is in our mutual interest to resolve this crisis and prevent the closure of this important facility. Zambeef Products Plc would like to see a halving of all fees and levies associated with running this facility. We look forward to your input and feedback.”

But in his letter to Zambeef, which was also copied to News Diggers! Msimuko explained that based on the polluter principle, the more a facility polluted the environment, the higher the fees.

He also gave an analysis of how environmental licence fees were issued under the Act and Regulations of ZEMA.

“An analysis of the foregoing shows that the Namwala Abattoir Environmental Licence fees for three years (2018 to 2021) amounts to only K57,960, which translates into K19,320 per annum. It is also worth noting that ZEMA, like other government agencies, collect and transmits these fees on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Zambia as part of general government revenue. For purposes of clarity and avoidance of doubt, please note that licences under the Act and the Regulations are valid for a period of three (3) years. You may also wish to note that, the amount paid by a licensee depends, to a greater extent, on the level of compliance to the law and regulations as well as conditions of the license or authorisation. Based on the polluter pays principle, the more a facility, the higher the fees. To this end, the amount cited above paid by Zambeef could, for example, decrease in the next round of licensing if compliance is enhanced,” Msimuko stated in the letter.

“We also make reference to the meeting of 12th July, 2018, between your messers Felix Lupindula and Jones Kayawe and ourselves on the above matter. In line with the Environmental Management Act No. 12 of 2011 (“the Act”) and Environmental Management (Licensing) Regulations No. 112 of 2013 (“the Regulations”), the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (“ZEMA”) issues licences/permits with a validity period of three years. Following the publication of the Article aforesaid, ZEMA undertook an internal due diligence to establish the current status with respect to the types of environmental licences/permits and the respective fees collected from Zambeef Plc relating to Namwala Abattoir operations. The article aforesaid referred to a letter addressed to the member of parliament for Namwala Hon. Moono Lubezhi and signed by the Zambeef General Manager Murray Moore, which stated that Zambeef had pulled out its operations in Namwala citing exorbitant fees charged by ZEMA. The article further went on to state that the agency collected K118,166 per annum. This information is incorrect and a misrepresentation of facts.”

Msimuko further stated that as a government agency, ZEMA has had a positive relationship with Zambeef and would continue with its goal of engaging and supporting industries in order to foster sustainable development in Zambia.

“As a government Agency, ZEMA facilitates development and has had a positive relationship with Zambeef Plc. Where Zambeef Plc has performed well, ZEMA has in the past recognised and even awarded Zambeef Plc. ZEMA would not award facilities such as yours if it was there only to halt businesses. The agency reiterates its goal of engaging and supporting industries, including Zambeef Plc in order to foster sustainable development in Zambia,” read Msimuko’s letter.