PRESIDENT John Magufuli yesterday put to rest, at least for the moment, debate on the implementation of the multimillion dollar Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and Bagamoyo Port in Coast Region.
Speaking during a meeting with businesspersons at the State House in Dar es Salaam yesterday, President Magufuli noted that it was inconceivable for the country to allow the implementation of a mega project under awkward and exploitative conditions and terms.
It was the first time President Magufuli came out to shed light on the previously hyped project, which was to be implemented by the government of Tanzania in partnership with China Merchant Holding International (CHMI) and Oman’s State Government Reserve Fund (SGRF).
“Investors had put stringent conditions and exploitative terms, which would not have benefitted Tanzania. As a matter of fact, they wanted us not to develop other ports apart from Bagamoyo,” he emphasised.
“This means that we would have tied our hands in developing Tanga Port, which is crucial for the oil pipeline from Uganda not to mention other harbours such as Mtwara and Kilwa – the latter being one of the oldest ports.”
Earlier, President Magufuli told the business community that the government had put in place an enabling environment to bolster trade and investments. “I decided to meet with you here today so that we can identify some challenges, which are unfriendly for business and trade,” he told businesspersons and investors from all over the country.
“It is my dream and wish to create at least 100 billionaires in Tanzania by the time I leave office. The government will continue creating an enabling environment for trade and business to flourish.” He assured the business community that the government highly valued the contribution of the private sector in boosting the economy and creating jobs.
“Among others, the government has scrapped 101 levies,charges and duties in agriculture, animal husbandry and fishing to address some concerns raised by people involved in the sectors,” he stated.
President Magufuli explained on the other hand that Tanzania sold $447.5m goods to other members of the East African Community (EAC) in 2018.
He further said that Tanzania had since 2015 registered 897 projects at the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) out of which 313 and 377 were registered by Tanzanians and foreigners respectively, while 207 projects were joint ventures between Tanzanians and foreigners.
These projects are valued at $13.8bn and they created 21,390 jobs during the period under review. President Magufuli, however, took issues with some dishonest businesspersons and investors, saying he had a list of 17,446 companies, which had been making false claims for Value Added Tax (VAT) refunds from the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA).
“These companies have been claiming for tax refunds and yet they did not undertake any business. All the implicated companies must refund the stolen money in 30 days,” he explained.
He as well accused of three companies for falsifying their books of accounts to cheat the government of requisite taxes.
The Head of State also took issues with the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF), which he blamed for working for the interests of large-scale businesses and investments at the expense of small and medium enterprises.