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MIND YOUR LANGUAGE: Is the government going to ‘scrape’ or ‘scrap’ mobile money transactions levies?

MIND YOUR LANGUAGE: Is the government going to ‘scrape’ or ‘scrap’ mobile money transactions levies?

TO get vaccinated or not to get vaccinated? Certainly that is the question on the minds of many Tanzanians, in the wake of their being bombarded with claims of doom and gloom awaiting those who get vaccinated, as well as the vaccinators.

Predictions include death, if not immediate, then in two, three, or 10 years time; they or their off springs turning into zombies; and loss of fertility for the current and future generations. Some doomsayers claim that vaccination is aimed at wiping out the whole human race; or, certainly all Africans, for a new crop of aliens, who may or may not be human beings!

It is amazing that such anti-vaccine arguments have been touted since the 18th century (i.e. for over 200 years now), even before Edward Jenner began his efforts to develop a small pox vaccine in the 1790s; and despite the fact that inoculating an uninfected person with pus from someone with smallpox was used for centuries to prevent diseases in Africa, China, India and the Ottoman Empire. All we have over this period are the advantages of vaccination.

Despite hesitancy in the minds of many, the President and other top government leaders were vaccinated on Wednesday 28 July. The President beseeched Tanzanians to cast their doubts and go ahead and get vaccinated.

“Seal of approval, as Samia terminates vaccine fears” reads the front page headline in the Good Citizen (29 July). Still in doubt? Meanwhile: “Bus owners call for fares hike amid Covid woes”, reports the Good Citizen of 29 July (page 2), quoting the Bus Owners’ Association Chairman as saying: “‘Despite’ the coronavirus pandemic, operating at the ‘level seat’ mode renders the business unprofitable because fuel prices have gone up.”

The preposition “Despite” in the above quotation may not be appropriate. This is because “Despite” is used to mean that something happens even though something else might have prevented it. How about reformulating the quotation to read as follows: “Even in the absence of the coronavirus pandemic, operating at ‘level seat’ mode renders the business unprofitable because fuel prices have gone up.”

Besides vaccination, the other topical issue has been the mobile money levies, which the government had promised to revisit in the wake of popular protests. Writes the Good Citizen on its page 3: “Optimism as Tanzanians wait for mobile levy report”.

“Optimism is high that the newly-hiked mobile money transaction levy will go down after the government receives a report today on the matter by a team formed to review the new rates”.

The writer assumes therefore that the rates will be revised downwards. However, an independent financial analyst consulted said: “expectations are that the government will ‘scrape’ the levies that have caused ‘too much noises’ (‘kelele nyingi’). By “scrape”, the writer wanted to say that the government will do away with the levies all together.

If that is the case, “scrape” is not the right word since it means: “to rub a hard edge or tool against a surface”. She had in mind “scrap”, which means “to decide not to continue with something such as a plan or an event; to abandon”. It is highly unlikely though, that the government will scrap the levies. It needs the money.

It will therefore be seeking to make them more tolerable or palatable, so as not to cause too much noise. This is one of the principles of taxation: “plucking most feathers from the goose while causing minimal squeaking”.

The analyst quoted above is also reported to have said the following: “the new levies will not only affect financial inclusion, but also cause mobile money agents to be out of ‘jobs’ while at the same time, revenues for telecommunications companies drop”.

The quotation could be re-written as follows: “The new levies will not only affect financial inclusion; they will also cause mobile money agents to go out of business (instead of ‘jobs’).

At the same time, revenue for telecommunications companies is likely to drop”. Rest in peace, Professor Elieuter Alphonce Mwageni (1958-2021)!


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