By BUUMBA CHIMBULU
FOREIGN investors conducting business in Zambia should offload a percentage of shares to the locals through listing on the Lusaka Securities Exchange (LuSE), Finance Minister, Bwalya Ng’andu, has said.
Dr Ng’andu said local ownership in the business entity guaranteed sustainability and was a way of empowering the locals.
He said an inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) coupled with local ownership through equity represented the kind of development Government was targeting to achieve.
He was speaking during the commissioning of the US$25 million British American Tobacco (BAT) Zambia Plc cigarette manufacturing plant in the Lusaka South Multi Facility Economic Zone (LS-MFEZ) on Friday last week.
“My hope is that the example set by BAT through selling of its shares to Zambians by listing on the LuSE can be emulated by other foreign investors doing business in our country,” Dr Ng’andu said.
He said the BAT Zambia investment would contribute to the overall improvement of the economy through value addition to agricultural raw materials.
Dr Ng’andu said the agricultural sector would benefit through enhanced tobacco growing as this would provide a ready market for the farmers.
“The BAT plant represents the kind of development that we want to see, an inflow of FDI coupled with local ownership through equity since BAT is listed on LuSE,” he said.
BAT Zambia Plc General Manager, Kimesh Naidoo, said the opening of the factory had created an additional 33 direct local jobs and brought the total compliment to 68 workers.
Mr Naidoo said this was in addition to the over 3,500 small to medium sized enterprises the business indirectly supported.
He said the factory which was constructed in the record time of seven months had the capacity to produce one billion sticks per year and that plans to expand the production line were underway.
“This will enable us to employ more people and further deliver our taxes and value to the Zambians,” he said.
Mr Naidoo said the company’s investment into the country signalled its confidence that Zambia was indeed open and ready for business that would contribute to effectively stimulating the domestic economy.
LS-MFEZ Managing Director, Mukela Lubasi, commended BAT for its contributions to the economy through employment creation and remittance of over K60 million in various taxes in the first half of the year.
“Such are results of incentives and opportunities that LS-MFEZ offers to its investors. We are committed to supporting the private sector by creating an enabling and conducive environment to attract local and foreign investments into the economy,” she said.