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By Shapi Shacinda

LUSAKA, March 3 (Reuters) – Foreign owners of Zambian copper mines have proposed a 12.5 percent windfall profit tax, rejecting the government’s proposed 25 percent rate, a senior industry official said on Monday.

“I am not able to say whether we will make headway or not,” Frederick Bantubonse, head of the Chamber of Mines of Zambia (CMZ), told Reuters after the group offered counter-proposals on the mining taxes.

Evans Chibiliti, Secretary to the Treasury, was quoted by state media on Monday as saying the government would press ahead with new taxes despite the new suggestions from mining firms.

In January, the government proposed a windfall profit tax at a minimum of 25 percent and an increase in mineral royalty to 3.0 percent from 0.6 percent.

It also plans, from April 1, to introduce a variable profit tax at 15 percent on taxable income above 8 percent and to raise corporate tax to 30 percent from 25 percent.

Foreign firms could be prohibited from mining copper if they did not the taxes

The CMZ has also proposed a variable profit tax be raised to taxable income above 16 percent from the government-suggested minimum of eight percent.

“If (the government) desires to impose variable profit tax in preference to windfall tax … it should be considered as 16 percent in place of the proposed 8 percent in the (law),” the CMZ said in a proposal submitted to parliament.

CMZ said that instead of introducing a flat rate of 3 percent mineral royalty, the government should introduce the tax at 1 percent, graduating to 3 percent with price increases. The corporate tax rate should remain at current 25 percent.

The group said the money raised through higher taxes should be used to help generate more power, following the costly energy outages suffered in January, and waning capacity.

Mining companies say the government plans would result in excessive taxes and also argue that they were not consulted on the proposals.

(Reporting by Shapi Shacinda; editing by Chris Johnson)

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