ZANZIBAR: PRESIDENT Hussein Ali Mwinyi has expressed dismay over an increase of prices of essential commodities in Zanzibar, arguing that the hike has no justification because there are no changes in taxes.
“The duty on sugar importation is the lowest, compared with many countries across the globe, but it is surprising that the price of sugar is up, causing inconveniences to the majority of consumers,” Dr Mwinyi said when he met with importers and traders here.
Dr Mwinyi convened the meeting with ‘big’ businesspeople in Zanzibar in response to public outcry on increasing sugar prices and other commodities, despite the Government’s deliberate efforts to control price inflation in the country.
He directed respective authorities, importers and traders to reduce food prices, specifically sugar, saying that the government will not accept arbitrary price hikes.
“If you have problems, consult the respective authorities, instead of hiking prices. I ask banks to prioritise supply US dollars to importers of food items to avoid delays,” he said.
The president also reminded importers and traders to make timely purchasing/ making orders so that consignments arrive in time to avoid scarcity as the government improves cargo handling terminal at the seaport.
As regards to recent complaints against tariffs after the privatisation of the cargo terminal operations at Malindi port, Dr Mwinyi said normally changes or reforms come with challenges.
“I direct Zanzibar Ports Corporation (ZPC) authority to work with the new management of the cargo terminal to address challenges that emerge in the course of changes,” he said.
About three weeks ago, Zanzibar Minister for Trade and Industrial Development, Mr Omar Said Shaaban, blamed sugarcane plantations vandalism on low sugar production, causing price increase.
The price has increased from less than 2000/- to 2800/- per kilogramme within a short period of three months this year, as consumers called for government intervention. The minister said people should stop using fire close to the sugarcane plantations.
He mentioned other reasons behind the sugar price increase as unstable prices in the global market, and some big producers of sugar reduced export, hence, causing inflation in countries like Zanzibar.
Mr Shaaban said the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar remains committed to supporting the Mahonda Sugar Factory to increase production so as to address the current sugar deficit in the Islands.
The Minister said the monthly consumption of sugar in Zanzibar is about 30,000 tonnes while the production of the factory is below 10,000 tonnes, far behind its full capacity.
“We want to see Mahonda produces enough for local consumption and export,” he said.
Zanzibar still relies heavily on the imported sugar (50,000 to 100,000 tonnes) from abroad, little is sold in Zanzibar and most of it finds its way to Tanzania mainland and other to neighbouring countries like DRC.
The factory management said that about 10 hectares of sugarcane plantation was burned recently.
Human resource Manager of the factory, Mr Bashiru Wazir Mohamed thanked the revolutionary government of Zanzibar for showing concern over vandalism.
In addition to sugar production, the factory has provided employments to many young people and women.