The new proposed changes to the Mineral Royalty Tax (MRT) regime will enhance the collection of mineral revenue by the government rather than compromise it, Chamber of Mines president Nathan Chishimba said recently.
Chishimba was reacting to a media statement issued by a consortium of civil society organisations advising government not to implement the new proposed Mineral Royalty Tax regime on the grounds that it is “investor-led” and will “not maximize revenue in times of commodity price booms”.
Chishimba praised the government for the new proposed MRT regime, saying it recognized the need to balance increased tax revenue with continued employment and investment in new mining ventures.
“One cannot separate mining tax revenue from mining investment, because it is the mining investment which ultimately produces the tax revenue,” said Chishimba. “A good tax is one which balances these two competing objectives.”
Commenting on the civil society’s statement that “we need to make the most of what we have while we have it”, Chishimba said this short-term thinking was not necessarily good for the Zambian economy.
“The largest amount of tax revenue is always generated over the longer term, and this can only happen if mining companies are incentivized to invest over the longer term.”
On the view that the new proposed MRT regime will “not maximize revenue collection in times of commodity price booms”, Chishimba said this reflected a misunderstanding of the role of MRT in the overall tax mix.
“MRT is a tax on production, not profit. It is pegged at a relatively low rate, and is not designed to maximize revenues in times of commodity price booms. Governments collect most of their revenue in times of commodity price booms from profit-based tax, which is much higher.”
Chishimba said the government was on the right track with the proposed MRT regime, and urged civil society to view it in the larger perspective of ongoing investment, employment and economic development.
“One has to balance taking as much as one can now with having a thriving industry into the future, and the government has at last recognized this,” said Chishimba.