Trade officers barred from collecting taxes

DODOMA: THE government has resolved that trade officers in district and municipal councils countrywide will no longer be collecting taxes from traders, instead, they will only be performing their core duties of helping traders to grow.

Industry and Trade Minister Dr Ashatu Kijaji unveiled this on Wednesday in the National Assembly, where Members of Parliament endorsed a 110.9bn/- budget for her docket for the 2024/25 financial year.

“One of the things we have agreed with the Minister of State in the President’s Office Regional Administration and Local Government (PO-RALG) is that the trade officers are guardians of traders, so they should be relieved of tax collection duties,” Dr Kijaji stated when winding up the debate on the ministry’s budget.

Dr Kijaji said that the decision was arrived at because trade officers cannot collect tax from traders and at the same time act as guardians of those traders as that creates a conflict of interests.

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“So, we have agreed that now these officials in all 185 district councils should continue with conducting seminars and workshops in their jurisdictions, and we have given them a target that every year, each of them should raise 15 new traders in the council,” she informed.

The minister thanked President Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan for approving the decision to introduce the industry and trade department in all district councils.

She said the National Assembly debate on the budget showed the importance of the sector as the sixthphase government emphasizes ensuring that raw materials are processed and added with value before being exported.

On Mchuchuma and Liganga projects, she thanked the President for endorsing 15.4bn/- for compensation and directed that financial management education be provided to beneficiaries.

“The second step will be to secure the area to become under the government. We are now going to finalise the discussion with investors so that the project works can continue,” she explained.

Dr Kijaji assured that the government intended to ensure that flagship projects are implemented so that they bring positive impacts to the people. Another flagship project of Engaruka Soda Ash and according to her the funds were available to pay compensation to residents for the project to start.

“The demand for soda ash is high in the country and in the world, the sectoral ministries such as water, and energy ministries had already arrived at the project sites for construction of needed infrastructures to facilitate the project,” she stated.

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During the session, Finance Minister Dr Mwigulu Nchemba ordered that the businesspeople who collect government taxes should submit to the government since they act as only the government’s agents.

Dr Nchemba’s directive comes as it has come to light that some businesspeople who collect taxes through selling goods or services, such as Value Added Tax (VAT) do not submit those monies to the government.

“We will deal with those who collect and remain with those taxes instead of giving them to the government, we will arrest them. We can’t let one person become rich out of government taxes which could go to improve social services,” he stressed.

“I direct the TRA (Tanzania Revenue Authority) to be serious to those who collect monies and turn them into their income, the collected monies should go to implement development projects,” Dr Mwigulu emphasised.

Clarifying arguments from some MPs, Agriculture Minister Hussein Bashe said the plan was underway to construct seven tea processing industries, two of which will be constructed next year.

On the sunflower production, Mr Bashe admitted that the country imports edible oil, which also affects farmers.

“We have submitted recommendations to the finance ministry to take two measures, including to start quarter importation that the imported cooking oil only for bridging the gap of the local production,” adding: “We will also increase tax on crude cooking oil and refined cooking oil to protect our farmers because the sunflower production increased last year.”

On his part, Minister of State in the President’s Office (Planning and Investment), Prof Kitila Mkumbo, told the MPs that after the completion of Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), it is expected that Kigoma Region will become a trading hub, which means that businesspeople from neighbrouring the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and other countries would buy goods from Kigoma instead of travelling to Dar es Salaam.

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