DODOMA: MEMBERS of Parliament are calling for increased exports in order to reduce the balance of payments deficit.
They believe that by scaling up the country’s exports and decreasing the importation of goods that can be produced locally, the government can address the problem of foreign currency deficit while promoting local production, trade and investment.
This, in turn, will contribute to socio-economic development of the country, the legislators said.
According to the lawmakers, the measure is envisioned to tackle the problem of foreign currency deficit while encouraging local production and boosting trade and investment which will in turn increase the socio-economic development of the country.
The MPs made the remarks when the National Assembly sat as a committee yesterday to debate the guidelines and proposal for the National Development Plan and Budget for the 2024/2025 financial year.
Dr Joseph Mhagama (Madaba, CCM) noted that Tanzania has been exporting less and importing more unnecessarily, thus forcing the country to spend more of its foreign currency reserve for procuring goods which can be obtained in the country.
He observed that one of the products that consume a large portion of the country’s foreign reserves is imported cooking oil, while there is a sufficient supply of raw material domestically.
“Until today 60 per cent of cooking oil is being imported from outside,” said Dr Mhagama, noting that Tanzania does not deserve to be there at all.
He suggested that the country could regularly adjust its policies on importing cooking oil and increase support for the agriculture sector.
Dr Mhagama also urged the responsible ministers to include in the plan a strategy to reduce imports of products that can be produced domestically, while also increasing the budget to support local production.
The lawmaker commended the Ministry of Agriculture for its progress in manufacturing fertilisers within the country and encouraged them to aim even higher levels of local production
He also highlighted the potential for Tanzania to use alternatives in the petroleum sector and emphasised the need to promote local investment in crops like wheat.
Mr Charles Mwijage (Muleba North, CCM) added that a lack of the re-export policy has contributed to the balance of payment challenge in the country. He suggested that encouraging rural development and establishing small industries such as Small Industries Dvelopment Organisation (SIDO) would help maintain the balance of payments.
The former Industry and Trade Minister emphasized the market potential for products like sunflower oil and called for lower interest rates from banks to support rural dwellers in starting small factories.
Singida West MP, Elibariki Kingu akncolwdged the government’s efforts in improving the agriculture sector, especially in production and extraction of cooking oil, which has led to lower prices in the country.
Kiteto MP Edward Ole Lekaita (CCM) stressed the need for people-centred development, particularly in rural areas where the majority of Tanzanians live.
He emphasised the importance of tangible results rather than well-written documents.
“We have had enough documentations…We want to see tangible results; we are not interested in reading well-written documents” he said.