PRESIDENT John Magufuli yesterday tasked his new appointees to work on nagging issues, citing poor performance by Tanzania Revenue Authority’s (TRA) officials at border posts as the chronic problem.
He directed the new Minister for Industry and Trade Innocent Bashungwa and TRA Commissioner General Dr Edwin Mhede to work hard and diligently.
Dr Magufuli denounced the performance of TRA at Tunduma and Sirari borders, accusing some of the authority’s top officials of corrupt deals and denying the government its desirable revenues.
Speaking after swearing in the new appointees at the State House in Dar es Salaam, the president however named TRA at Rusumo border as the best performer.
“For instance, one commissioner at Tunduma border has been involved in stamping deceitful documents for cargos that were on transit but they end up being sold within the country, he is assisting dishonest traders to evade taxes,” Dr Magufuli revealed, wondering whether the ministry of finance and planning has already taken action against the officer.
He told the new TRA boss to liaise with businesspeople in the country and build good relationship with them, assuring that through the nurtured cordial relations, he will get useful information on the challenges they face on the hands of TRA officials.
“Don’t fear being loathed by your subordinates at TRA, remember that if you perform in the interests of over 50 million Tanzanians, you will certainly go to heaven,” the president said amid cheers from the gathering at the State House.
He explained that he sacked former TRA Commissioner General Charles Kichere because he was sluggish in intervening on problems arising on the part of TRA.
“I have been texting him even at midnight as I received messages from taxpayers complaining on issues…Mr Kichere was just responding that he has received the messages but I never saw any action,” he stated.
Mr Kichere was also sworn in as Njombe Regional Administrative Secretary. President Magufuli also condemned the ministry of industry and trade over its failure to secure the market for cashew nuts, which the government procured from farmers last year.
He said the ministry of agriculture and Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF) played their part by buying and collecting the cash crop, respectively but the trade portfolio that had to use its institutions to secure markets failed.
“We collected 223,000 tonnes of cashew nuts, which remain in warehouses. Who do you think had to come and tell you to sell the produce,” fumed the president, directing the new minister to act swiftly.
After the swearing-in ceremony, the government received from India’s Bharti Airtel a total of 5.27bn/-, out of which 3bn/- is payment to the government under the revised deal on ownership of Airtel Tanzania.
Under the January 2019 sealed new agreement, the telecoms firm will be paying the government 1bn/- monthly for five years, bring the total to 60bn/-. The other 2.27bn/- was given to the government as the company’s contribution to the country development.
Bharti Airtel International Chairman Sunil Mittal handed over the dummy cheque to the Minister of Finance and Planning Dr Philip Mpango.
Speaking after the handover, Mr Mittal said when the negotiations started, the situation was tense but the investors believed in doing things in ethical practice and highest standards.
‘It’s our responsibility to ensure that the environment we are operating in is clean, we are moving in this journey in good faith,” he said.