|Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. Philip Mango.|
Finance and Planning Minister Philip Mpango asked the business community, including traders and investors, in a meeting in Dar es Salaam yesterday, to adhere to the laws, rules and regulations governing their businesses, describing tax evasion as unacceptable and intolerable.
“Evading tax is a crime... we know there are some few insincere TRA (Tanzania Revenue Authority) employees who collude with dishonest traders to deny the government its rightful revenues... they must be taken to task,” charged Dr Mpango, directing Acting TRA Commissioner General Alphayo Kidata to act tough against undisciplined tax collectors.
The minister asked the business community to support the government in its strides to fight extreme poverty amongst the citizens and deliver high quality social services.
“We need joint and extraordinary reforms as a nation to successfully fight poverty in the country.” He dismissed as unfounded, rumours that the Fifth Phase Government was against businesspeople, saying President John Magufuli’s administration was aware of the critical role that the private sector plays in national development.
“Let me declare my personal commitment to working harmoniously with both small and big businesses,” he assured the meeting. Dr Mpango, however, vowed to act tough against tax defaulters, saying: “We are determined, we will fight against tax evasion without fearing anybody... I don’t want to be a begging minister; I have severally escorted my predecessors to the begging tours.
I know how humiliating it is.” He advised the business community to work hard and grab the immense business opportunities availed under the East African Community and Southern African Development Community, promising conducive business environment for a flourishing private sector in the country.
Giving the 2016/17 budget indicators, the minister said the government is determined to get rid of all nuisance taxes that impede smooth business as a strategy to support the envisaged industrial economy.
The government’s priority is to work closely with the private sector to construct labour intensive industries that use domestically available raw materials to produce products that are widely consumed in the domestic market.
In his first meeting with big taxpayers at the Treasury Conference Hall, Dr Mpango said the government has earmarked several flagship projects like Mtwara, Kigoma and Bagamoyo Special Economic Zones, construction of the central line to standard gauge and other industrial supporting projects like electricity and an efficient port.
Business leaders who spoke during the meeting raised a number of issues, which they asked the government to tackle head-on to improve the business environment.
The Agricultural Council of Tanzania Chairman, Dr Sinare Yusuf Sinare, challenged the government to give the top priority on agriculture if it has to succeed in its efforts to revamp the economy.
“We cannot industrialise effectively and sustainably unless we invest seriously in agriculture to produce raw materials and create domestic market for the industrial goods.
” Another prominent figure in local business circles, Mr Felix Moshi, called for effective protection of the domestic industries, describing the current system as inadequate.
He decried the proliferation of regulatory bodies and their exorbitant charges, which he said were unnecessarily raising the costs of doing business in the country.