The Zambia Association of Manufacturers (ZAM) has urged government to zero-rate the unprocessed meat to ensure that consumers buy meat products from registered outlets and avoid spreading animal diseases such as anthrax.
ZAM Chief Executive Officer, Muntanga Lindunda, in a statement issued on Tuesday was hopeful that this move would make meat products from formal institutions more affordable.
Lindunda stated that formal institutions were presently subjected to unfair competition from illegal producers who did not pay taxes and Value Added Tax (VAT) and supply cheaper meat products but risky to human health.
“This, in part, is another reason why most of the people in communities and markets are resorting to consuming meat from unregistered outlets.
Henceforth, zero-rating VAT will be a step forward in levelling the playing field for formal and informal food producers.
“Finally, food safety remains an important aspect of industrialisation, therefore the Zambia Association of Manufacturers will remain open to partnerships aimed at addressing illicit trade and the spread of diseases such as anthrax,” she said.
Lindunda explained that non-exemption of VAT increased the cost of packaged meat and rendered it uncompetitive when compared to countries such as Botswana which had zero-rated meat products and South Africa with a standard rated system.
“We, therefore, urge the government to zero-rate the unprocessed meat or alternatively consider zero-rating some of the key inputs which go into livestock farming and processing,” she said.
On the outbreak of the anthrax disease, Lindunda said the challenge hampered efforts at value chain development for the food industry due to the disrupted supply of raw materials.
She noted that illegal meat, bought from unregistered, unauthorised outlets and also consumption of meat from infected animals could potentially be the main driver of anthrax due to a lack of compliance with stringent testing procedures set by the government to ensure adherence to standards which were critical for ensuring food safety.
“Therefore, ZAM recommends that the government should enhance its efforts to sensitize communities on food safety at various stages including production and consumption,” Lindunda said.
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