207 entities owing 200bn/- cautioned

THE Minister for Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development, Mr William Lukuvi, has issued a nine-day ultimatum to 207 public and private institutions and companies owing the government over 200bn/- in land rent to settle their outstanding debts, failure to which they risk facing legal actions.

Among the institutions whose Chief Executive Officers (CEO), may land in trouble if they don’t clear their accumulated debts are Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (40.1bn/-), Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited - 25.5bn/ - and National Ranching Company Limited (NARCO) with an outstanding debt of 23.4bn/-.

The minister issued the ultimatum during his meeting with heads of those institutions as well as owners of industrial and commercial plots with accumulated land rent arrears.

Some 197 institutions and companies were represented at the meeting, out of the 207 who were summoned by the minister to attend the meeting.

Also in attendance were his deputy, Ms Angelina Mabula and Permanent Secretary (PS), Doroth Mwanyika.

During the meeting, Mr Lukuvi said that all defaulters of land rent had until June 20 to settle their outstanding debts or be taken to court, including revoking their title deeds and auctioning their properties to recover the public money.

“Beginning June 21, we will start dragging all defaulters to court as well as forfeiting some of the properties using our selected brokers, to whom we have already given the assignment until you pay,’’ warned Mr Lukuvi.

Apart from TTCL, TANESCO and NARCO, the minister named other institutions as National Development Corporation (NDC) - 17.5bn/-, Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) - 10.8bn/-, Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC)- 9.1bn/-, Tanzania Airport Authority (TAA)- 8.1bn/- and Reli Asset Holding Company (RAHCO)--- 4.1bn/-, among others.

Mr Lukuvi said he did not invite the CEOs because of their status but because of the records in his office which showed that their institutions had accumulated arrears in land rent.

He said he had received requests from some institutions requesting the ministry to waive the accumulated debts but insisted that there was no room for that. He insisted that they had to clear all the debts otherwise legal actions would be instituted against them.

For those seeking exemptions, he added, he did not have the legal mandate of doing so, but asked them to read the Government Notice (GN) Number 347 which was published on April 26, 2019.

The GN cited by the minister shows who deserves to be exempted and the exemption applies only to institutions that do not use land for profit-oriented activities.

However, he added, even if they would be given exemptions after submitting requests, they were obliged to clear all their debts accumulated before being granted exemption.

The minister said before issuing exemption for land rent, the ministry ensures that in everything the institutions do, there was no business element.

“If you believe that you deserve the exemption, just fill the form,” he said, noting that the exemption does not involve arrears but that only applies to those who own land and have not been doing business on it from June last year in line with the Finance Act.

In most cases, he added, exemptions apply to religious institutions.

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Author: KATARE MBASHIRU in Dodoma

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