ZAMBIA National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) has called on Government to remove all livestock levies charged by local councils in districts as a way of supporting development in the sector.
ZNFU, in its 2016 budget submissions, says council livestock levies in the current form are punitive fees to the livestock sector and retrogressive to the growth of the agricultural sector in Zambia.
The union said Government is currently spending too much money on the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) and the farmer input support programme (FISP) which is unsustainable in the long term.
According to submissions availed to the Daily Mail by ZNFU media liaison officer Kingsley Kaswende, the measure is expected to reduce the financial burden on Government by restricting FRA to 500,000 metric tonnes of grain reserve only, and to ensure that the target under FISP is improved through the electronic voucher system.
“The livestock sector is the backbone of income for most rural households and should be supported. However, the existence of unregulated livestock levies which vary across council frontiers result in farmers getting discounted prices as they vary between seven percent to 10 percent of the total cost of production which is huge.
“The revenue loss will be compensated by the fact that the removal of council levies will make the livestock sector competitive and hence provide direct revenue to Government. The measure would free up resources for other spending needs by Government,” the union said.
Meanwhile, ZNFU says there is need for the maize value chain to be zero –rated to make the production of the staple food competitive and affordable to consumers.
The union said in its 2016 budget submissions that alternatively, Government should consider removing value added tax (VAT) on inputs that are used in maize production and its products such as seed, chemicals, grain bags, electricity, fuel, farming and milling equipment spare parts.
“At a time when Government has eliminated all forms of subsidies on major inputs such as fuel and subsidies on maize to millers and reduction of subsidies to farmers under farmer input support programme, value added tax zero rating maize would eliminate added costs on input taxes,” ZNFU said.