The role of investement centre as a one stop office under the Investment Act, 1993: prospects and constraints

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Samakayi, Rose
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Zambia, like any other less developed country, is desirous of fostering development. To do this it has to attract meaningful investment in the industrial, manufacturing and agricultural sectors. Increased investment, it is hoped, will improve the economy and thus the welfare of its people.Lack of capital for investment has always been a deterrent to development efforts, hence the continuous insistence to invite direct investment. To attract investment Zambia has to create a legally hospitable climate by putting in place a legal framework in which to provide a number of undertakings and guarantees specifically designed to ensure the protection of property. It is precisely because of these factors that it becomes crucial to provide the administrative machinery that would promote investment. Hence the constitution of the Investment Centre to deal with the investor.The main aim of the Investment Act No 39 of 1993 was to cut down on a cumberome system of procedures. This, it was felt, would promote and encourage investment which would in turn develop the economy. In order to achieve this, the Act hoped to harmonise all procedures and entrust them to one institution that would deal with the investor. Hence the creation of an Investment Centre as a one-stop office to which the investor has to present all his documents to obtain a resident permit, Land, exemption from or reduced tax, licence and the provision of services inter alia water, electricity and transport. The ultimate aim was to simpllify procedures. The question, however, is whether the legislature empowered the centre to perform its functions in view of the other bodies or institutions conferred with similar powers or functions. The institutions in mind are those legally empowered in certain respects to perform functions allocated to the Centre. Those institutions insist upon holding on to their powers of inter alia approval, taxation, allocation of land services. There is thus need to examine the restraints the Centre faces in the execution of its functions and whether or not investors stop at the Centre.Although various studies have been conducted on investment law in Zambia generally very little attention has been paid to the operation of the administrative Centre. In this light, this essay examines the provisions of the Act so as to present the Investment Centre in a legal perspective.The essay hopes to examine primarily the objective of the Act in creating a one-stop centre as a way of simplifying procedures. It also attempts to analyse the various functions and incentives of the Centre as provided for in the Act and the defects necessitating any correction. It will also discuss how investors perceive the Investment Centre. Finaly, the essay will suggest recommendations and reforms necessary to realise the Act's prime objective of making the Centre an effective one-stop centre.This study may not be comprehensive but it is hoped that it may be of some use to policy makers, legislators and of some help to other researchers in the field of Investment in Zambia.
Foreign Investment , Investment - Zambia