MEMBERS of Parliament (MPs) are today expected to endorse the 36.33tril/- budget in recurrent and development expenditures for 2021/2022 financial year, as Finance and Planning Minister, Dr Mwigulu Nchemba faces a daunting task to respond to various issues raised by lawmakers during a week-long debate.
Among key issues which surfaced in the August House during a debate for the national budget include among other issues, re-opening Bureau De Change shops that were closed by the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) in effecting the foreign exchange (Bureau De Change) Regulations of 2019.
The debate further saw legislators calling for implementation of water and infrastructure projects, especially roads, railways and bridges in order to catalyse economic activities in the country.
Also members of Parliament called for fastracking of all key flagship projects including the Julius Nyerere Hydropower Project and the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) projects.
MPs further called for further reforms on some laws on tax and removal of levies which are discouraging entrepreneurship and investment in the country.
Among issues that brought a heated debate in the House is the contract between Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) and a Swiss company, Societe Industrielle et Commerciale de Produits Alimentaires (SICPA) for supply, installation as well as supporting software and hardware for an Electronic Tax Stamp (ETS).
ETS replaced the hitherto paper based tax stamps initially attached to cigarettes, wines and spirits. The signing of the contract saw the company extending the service to all products subjected to exercise duty including beers, sodas and other soft drinks in order to check counterfeiting and promote tax compliance.
However, there have been protests from some circles of the public including manufacturers. During the 2021/2022 budget debate, MPs were opposed to the contract between SICPA and TRA.
Yesterday, Special Seats lawmakers, Halima Mdee (CHADEMA) said the government was not receiving reasonable money from the contracted firm, calling for a fresh tendering process to have the new contractor or alternatively, choosing any public firm to perform similar exercise.
“Until now, records from the taxman show that about 245 manufacturers have already been given ETS machines but there is no success so far if you look at the figures before and after sealing of the contract,” she said.
Ms Mdee said that before the contract in 2018, TRA was collecting 237bn/- per year but today, only 246bn/- was being collected electronically with the difference of a mere 8bn/- which was still meagre.
Kisesa MP, Luhaga Mpina asked the Finance and Planning Minister to tell the House how much the contractor---SICPA was earning per year as he insisted that the contract was even killing business for suppliers of the said products.
“We should be told when will this contract reach to it’s end because the company is not even providing dividend to the government,” he said.