MINISTER of Small and Medium Enterprises Elias Mubanga says he is pleased that Zambians are now coming together with a view of penetrating the manufacturing base, thereby creating employment.

And Mubanga says government will review the SI on jobs to ensure that those meant for Zambians are reserved for citizens as the country attracts big foreign investors.

Meanwhile, VOX limited Director Nathan Chulu challenged government to consider tax rebates for Small and Medium Enterprises whenever they are importing machinery.

Speaking in Chongwe during the tour of VOX Limited, a purely Zambian owned water and bottle manufacturing company, Wednesday, Mubanga said he was impressed.

“I am very much impressed with what I am seeing. This is 100 per cent Zambian equity no foreign inclusion in there and as a ministry, this is what we are encouraging. This is what we are supporting where you see the young people come together and form up a water processing plant. This is extremely amazing and what I would like to say is that we know there are challenges now because they have now set up a plant. They are in the production stage and whatever requirement is needed now, we will come in as government and help through. You can see the one that is doing the operation is Zambian, the managing director and other shareholders, they are Zambians and this is what we want. We have engineers in this country and such plants will be able to employ engineers, chemical engineers and if you look the other side, you will see those guys that are standing there, they have been employed and they are about 25,” he said.

Mubanga assured the company of government’s support as it expands.

“I think he has also mentioned of expansion, they are expanding; there is another plant they are opening into a pharmaceutical so we are impressed as government and we want to support what they are doing. This government is concerned with the SMEs and we want to ensure that when they are importing machinery like this, we will definitely have to give them good incentives so that we can encourage and foster what the SMEs are planning and doing. Then the other thing as government, when such plants have opened up, we want to lead them to the market. Market is very important. We will sit with chain stalls’ managing directors and CEOs to support the Zambian products because this is 100 per cent Zambian so we want to see the bottle of water from this VOX to be in chain stalls. So I think this is quite important. We will definitely link them to the market as government and the ministry in charge of SMEs. So I am appealing to everyone out there that this is an example, come to the ministry of small and medium and we will give you support,” he said.

And Mubanga said government would review the SI on protecting jobs meant for Zambians.

“I think some few years ago, there was a pronouncement in the house – parliament – regarding that, and I will be able to look into that and review otherwise the truth of the matter is that as government, we will make sure that the jobs that belongs to Zambians, it will be is for Zambians. We would want to encourage that, not to say that foreign investment is not welcome. We are in fact looking forward to the foreign investment to come in through but then we are looking at a big picture, where we have a bigger manufacturing plant that is the investment that we are inviting but things like water processing, we would like the Zambians to take part where they can actually also partner with the foreigners, foreign investment as well and things like this, but well, small plants, we would want them to be for Zambians for sure,” he said.

Meanwhile, in his vote of thanks, Chulu challenged government to consider tax rebates for Small and Medium Enterprises when they are importing machinery.

“We are happy that you have visited and government is really spearheading this to see how best you can help. But some of the challenges which Zambian owned companies like ours are facing one, of the major things will be market penetration because obviously, in this field there are already big players. And if you have a hand, help penetrate through the market and have our products on shelves because like I am saying, this is a fully automated factory, hands free and I think we are producing as any other quality. The other thing would be when importing such machinery obviously we encounter a lot of taxes and a lot of costs. If that can be looked into where we have some kind of tax rebates that would be really much help,” he said.

He said his company also had plans to set up a pharmaceutical plant for manufacturing medical syringes.

“We are now trying to venture out into other plastic commodities. Very soon from now, we are starting to construct another facility just on the opposite side where we will be producing medical syringes just within the country because some of these things I think we should not be importing things like plastic made syringes which we can do here in Zambia. So the total investment into the next factory which we are working on is K20 million. We have about 35 percent of that money from our own investment but we are looking for further investment to just spearhead…if there is some of financing or a government loan, that will make easy how fast we move into this thing because we are also looking at exporting those things to the neighbouring countries because neighbouring countries like Malawi, Zimbabwe, Congo all those are relevant markets,” said Chulu.