MPs demand scrapping exemption on imported crude palm oil

MINISTER for Finance and Planning, Dr Mwigulu Nchemba has dropped a hint on plans for East African Community Common External Tariff (EAC CET) on scrapping of imported crude palm oil tariff.

He said in the National Assembly on Tuesday that the government has heard members of Parliament’s concerns over plans to exempt CET for imported crude palm oil.

Presenting government’s budget in the House last week, Minister Nchemba announced that the government planned to revert back to EAC CET rate of 0 per cent, instead of 25 per cent on Crude Palm Oil (CPO) to protect consumers’ welfare against skyrocketing prices henceforth enhance economic growth.

Members of Parliament expressed concerns over the plan, saying that will discourage sunflower farmers who had bumper harvest this year.

Contributing to government’s budget estimates for 2023/24 in Parliament on Monday they said plans to grant EAC CET exemption to CPO would hurt sunflower farmers who had bumper harvest this year after the government supplied them with improved varieties of seeds.

The Magu Member of Parliament, Kiswaga Destery (CCM) said it was not fair for the government to exempt CET for imported crude palm oil now that Tanzania has increased sunflower production, which will contribute to increased edible oil supply.

“This is not fair. CET should be increased to 35 per cent. I recommend 35 per cent CET for imported crude palm oil to make sure local sunflower farmers get competitive prices for their produce,” Destery said.

The Magu lawmaker said he would seek to block the budget if the government would not increase CET for crude palm oil to 35 per cent.

Manyoni West Lawmaker, Mr Yahya Massare, said the government should not lower CET for imported crude palm oil for the sake of local sunflower farmers.

“I’m pleading with the government to stop this audacity. Government should supply free seeds to farmers, production increased and today you lower tariffs for imported crude palm oil?” he said in his contribution to the budget.

Sunflower is among the five major oilseed crops in Tanzania. Others are sesame, groundnuts, palm and cotton oil. It is an important crop to the livelihood of Tanzanians along the entire value chain. Current raw sunflower seeds production is three million tonnes per annum, but the country has the potential to increase production to 10 million tonnes per annum.

Major sunflower producing regions are Singida, Dodoma, Manyara, Arusha, Tabora, Iringa, Njombe, Rukwa, Mbeya, Morogoro, Ruvuma, Kigoma and Katavi.

Despite its importance, actors along the value chain face a number of challenges, resulting in low productivity of only an average on 1.2 tonnes/ha due to low yielding seeds, poor control of insects, pests, disease and vermin control, limited access to financial services, limited access to market information and high post-harvest losses.

The government has taken several efforts to improve productivity, such as by investing in production of improved seed varieties.

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