Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Supply of industrial sugar, a big problem in Tanzania

Industrialists operating in Tanzania have complained on the importation of industrial sugar in the country saying that it is full of bureaucracy. In view of this, have pleaded with the government to allow industrial sugar importation under the East African Community (EAC) duty remission scheme. Manufacturers of foods, beverages and related products are allowed to import industrial sugar from outside EAC region because none of the block’s six partners produce the raw material. Speaking at the 11th Tanzania National Business Council (TNBC) meeting at State House in Dar es Salaam on Monday this week, traders raised concern over the 15 per cent refundable import duty that Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) charges on industrial sugar. The agreed import duty on industrial sugar to all EAC countries is 10 per cent but Tanzania charges an additional refundable duty of 15 per cent, bringing the total duty to 25 per cent. Tanzania imposed the extra 15 per cent to curb misuse of industrial sugar by unscrupulous traders who repackage and resell the product for domestic consumption. Manufacturers described the additional charge as nuisance to investors, saying it takes long time to receive the refund. Nyanza Bottling Company Limited (NBCL) Managing Director Christopher Gachuma said the long outstanding refunds on additional 15 per cent import duty were threatening food and beverage industries. Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) says TRA is yet to remit 35bn/- in additional import duties on industrial sugar to five major industries. CTI has been campaigning for the removal of additional duties on industrial sugar. The confederation insisted that the unprecedented delays in permit issuance had made it difficult for businesspeople to clear their consignments at the port, with further delays likely to result into compounded storage costs and demurrage charges which will adversely affect production. But, President John Magufuli challenged potential investors to instead invest in production of industrial sugar and get rid of imported products. He said the government recently suspended issuance of industrial sugar import permits pending thorough assessment to weed out deceitful traders who repackage and resell the raw material as domestic sugar. Dr Magufuli, addressing the TNBC meeting, said a team of government officials that conducted the thorough assessment of industries that had applied for the import permits, established that only eight industries needed the sweetener for industrial purposes. “These industries had their records straight and they ordered the sugar consignments as per their production operations unlike other factories that requested to import huge consignments against their demand,” he said. He said there were 22 industries that had sought import permits for consignments that were above their factories’ demand. In the assessment report that the team presented to the Head of State last Thursday, there was a ghost factory, Maisha Bottles and Beverages, which asked for the permit to import 7,000 tonnes of industrial sugar. “I thought we were only dealing with ghost workers but in a bizarre turn of events, it appears that we have even ghost factories,” he fumed. Dr Magufuli told over 200 businesspeople who convened at the Magogoni State House that it was high time the country’s business community constructed industrial sugar factories to create more jobs for Tanzanians. With almost 55 million people, Tanzania’s sugar demand per year is estimated at 590,000 tonnes, of which 135,000 tonnes are industrial. The country has a deficit of 125,000 and 135,000 tonnes of domestic and industrial sugar, respectively. The gap is always bridged through imports. “If we can have more industries producing sugar locally, there is no any need to have the Tanzania Sugar Board,’’ charged Dr Magufuli, inviting more investors to invest in the country, which he described as the best place for investment to thrive. He ordered TRA to charge reasonable taxes that do not frustrate traders, saying if there are laws impeding business in the country, they should be forwarded to parliament for amendment. President Magufuli asked government officials to avoid using their positions and discretionary powers to depress traders whom he described as the engine of economic growth, saying “My government loves businesspeople.” He hinted that there are investors from Germany and Denmark who have expressed interest to invest in the Petrochemical plant in Kilwa District, Lindi Region. The 1.92 billion US dollar (about 4tri/-) fertilizer industry is expected to generate 4,000 direct employments, according to Dr Magufuli. He promised the businesspeople that his government will work on all their grievances to create a friendly business environment in the country.

A change is as a good as a rest, the UDOM gets a new boss

A change is always as a good as a rest, this is a solemn saying which implies that, wherever there is a newly appointed boss, people normally expects to get a change. This has happened in Dodoma whereby the newly appointed University of Dodoma (UDOM) Vice Chancellor, Prof Egid Mubofu has promised conducive environment for more research at UDOM to enhance its status as a centre of excellence that offers value added training. Prof Mubofu made the promise at a joint ceremony for valediction and investiture of the Vice Chancellor (VC) of UDOM here over the weekend, pointing out that research projects were vital for the growth of any higher learning institution in the world. “I’m informed that our university performs very well in teaching, but it’s still faced with some challenges in research,” said the new UDOM VC. Prof Mubofu has taken over from Prof Idris Kikula whose tenure ended on March 17. Prof Mubofu also pledged to complete the construction of two Colleges of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and Earth Sciences at the UDOM campus, noting that President John Magufuli had already promised to disburse the funds for the construction projects. “I was also briefed on a prevailing lack of staff houses at the campus. I would work with my fellow staff in order to address the challenge,” he observed. UDOM Chancellor and Retired President, Mr Benjamin Mkapa, expressed gratitude to outgoing UDOM Vice Chancellor, Prof Kikula, noting that UDOM has registered immense achievement under his 11-year administration. He said the enrolment of students in UDOM had increased from 1,272 during its inception in 2007 to the current 10,000 students, adding that the number of graduates had increased from 2,240 in previous years to the current number of 5,575. Mpwapwa District Commissioner, Mr Jabir Shekimweri, who represented Dodoma Regional Commissioner, Dr Binilith Mahenge, said that UDOM had made contribution to the development of Dodoma through research. “We’re currently carrying out sensitization campaign to improve the academic performance in secondary schools after a recent study conducted by UDOM,” said Mr Shekimweri, who is also a UDOM alumni. He noted further that Dodoma would largely depend on inputs from UDOM academicians in realization of industrialization.

Mountains in East Africa region to incur ecological changes

Kilimanjaro and Meru mountains in Tanzania and Mount Kenya are reportedly turning into ecological Islands, according to scientists. “The East Africa’s mountains are a treasure trove of biodiversity...however, their ecosystems may be at a higher risk than previously realised,” reports Dr Andreas Hemp and Dr Claudia Hemp, adding Mount Kilimanjaro is turning into a green protrusion from a mostly brown background. The researchers claim that agriculture, irresponsible logging and human settlement establishment have eliminated the natural vegetation that used to serve as a bridge to the surrounding area, enabling the diversity of species to develop to its current levels. The mountain’s neighbouring regions are presumably being isolated from their surrounding areas. The researchers have published their study in the Global Change Biology journal. The 5,890-metre Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in Africa, located less than 100 kilometres from Mount Meru, 4600 metres. Satellite images have shown how the strips of land between them have changed in 25 years, leading to the turn of the century. According to the scientists, areas that originally had dense vegetation have now been transformed into intensive agricultural land and human settlements, leaving the mountain almost completely surrounded by large areas characterised by encroachment of human civilisation. 

Mount Kilimanjaro seen from far distance

Biologists from the Universityof Bayreuth and the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre Frankfurt (BiK-F) also studied the environments of grasshoppers at 500 selected sites on Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru to find out if there were biological effects caused by human encroachment on the mountains. They concluded that the species have moved from their previous low ranges ascending slightly higher onto the mountains, indicating that the environment at the base of Mount Meru and Kilimanjaro were no longer conducive for the insects. “Several thousand years ago, it was considerably cooler and damper in the lower areas than it is today. Thus, grasshoppers that preferred these climatic conditions settled at the foot of the mountains, travelling by foot via the wooded land route. It was only later, as the temperatures rose and precipitation diminished that they made their way to higher areas” Dr Hemp explained. In another development, Kenya has launched efforts to protect Mount Kenya, the country’s main source of fresh water, after human activities started to gnaw its base. Donations from events and activities that kicked off this March are channeled into Mount Kenya Trust, which supports the project to protect and conserve the mountain. “Even though Mount Kenya is one of the five major water catchment areas in the country, it faces serious threats. They include wildlife poaching, illegal logging and encroachment,” said the Mount Kenya Trust Executive Director Susie Weeks

Tanzania to establish irrigation centre for EAC Member states

Irrigation is the most important activity in farming as it helps to make agriculture grow despite low rainfall levels in the country. In view of this, Tanzania government is planning to introduce the first ever centre of excellence on irrigation training to serve East African countries. The training centre to be established at Oljoro with exemplary farm and man-made lake, is the brainchild of Arusha Technical College’s (ATC) irrigation engineering department. It was established to devise modern ways of farming that free farmers from extreme reliance on rains. Dr Richard Masika who initiated the project during his tenure as ATC Rector, said the centre will comprise of farms, classrooms, hostels and laboratories to make the facility one of the learning centres of excellence in the East African region. The irrigation training hub was made possible under the auspices of Japanese universities-- Kyushu, Scuba and Kobe. “Most of the irrigation projects in Tanzania and East Africa as whole are executed in areas that already have water and receive rain but to really make changes, irrigation should be operated in arid andsemi-arid areas,” said Dr Masika. ATC acting Rector Dr Masoud Senzia revealed that Japan, which supported the irrigation centre’s establishment has already completed the eightyear contract, but will continue to assist ATC in improving and expanding the facility to attain its goal. “Among the achievements is the training of ATC teaching staff, who were dispatched to Japan for studies,” explained Dr Senzia. The irrigation project under 150 acres is being established under ATC, with funding from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). 

An irrigation equipment pumping water to far crops in the farm.

Tanzania is rolling out modern farming initiatives to achieve the national target of ensuring one million hectares of arable land are under irrigation schemes by 2020. The Acting Director of National Irrigation Commission (NiRC), Engineer Seth Luswema, pointed out that the only way to combat effects of climate change and deal with natural disasters like floods is to invest heavily in irrigation schemes. “Because we can intercept flood water before it can cause disasters, tapping the flows and channel the currents into irrigation schemes to water crops or replenish reservoir dams,” stated Engineer Luswema. The acting NiRC Director said the National Irrigation Master plan 2018 will soon be launched to help the nation transform agricultural activities from rain fed crop cultivation, into allseason irrigation farming. “It (master plan) aims at expanding farming areas under irrigation and also overhauling the existing schemes that still operate through outdated traditional irrigation structures,” he said. It is reported that nearly 465,000 hectares are under irrigation, accounting for a mere five per cent of the country’s total estimated 29.4 million hectares suitable for cultivation. Engineer Luswema said that despite the limited area of irrigated land, over 24 per cent of the total food production in the country came from farms under irrigation scheme

Magufuli issues seven day ultimatum to his ministers

President Dr. John Magufuli on Monday this week issued a seven-day ultimatum to all ministers to work on critical challenges haunting the business community in the country. He particularly directed the Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr Philip Mpango (pictured) and Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) Commissioner General Charles Kichere to meet and deliberate on the best strategy to reduce the burden of backlog taxes to traders. Speaking at the 11th Tanzania National Business Council’s (TNBC) meeting at State House in Dar es Salaam, the business community raised concern over the outstanding debts that were accumulated over many years. Responding, Dr Magufuli ordered the ministry and TRA to meet with businesspeople and renegotiate on the outstanding amount that can fairly be paid to ease the tax burden that threatens many businesses in the country. “We should have a human face and avoid being too rigid because the government relies on the business community to raise revenue,’’ said the president, arguing that if for instance the businessperson owes TRA money that was accumulated in 10 years, the taxman can forego five years and collect the amount accumulated for five years. Winding up the day-long meeting, President Magufuli directed all ministers whose dockets traders blamed during the discussions to address the raised issues within one week, with the view of improving the country’s business environment. The business hurdles that traders complained of include nuisance taxes that affect trade and investment in the country, bureaucracy within the government institutions and indiscriminate imports that flood the domestic market, rendering the home manufactured goods uncompetitive, as well as outdated laws. President Magufuli tasked the ministers to prepare answers and solutions to all the raised challenges and submit the document to Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa within one week for the government to devise appropriate measures to improve the business environment. 

Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) Chairman Reginald Mengi assured that the private sector will continue investing in modern industrial plants and maintaining tax compliance. He commended the government for proper supervision of the economy, proper investment environment and adequate access to business loans. “Next month, we expect to have another conference that will create awareness to industrialists and the private sector to invest more in the industrial economy,” he said. On projects being executed by foreign contractors, Mr Mengi said there is need to amend the laws to compel foreign contractors to team up with their local counterparts to transfer skills that will help the local contractors to execute similar projects in future. The TPSF chairman further proposed that in the 2018/2019 budget, the government should think of reducing taxes that frustrate businesspeople, singling out Skills and Development Levy (SDL). He said TPSF receives many complaints from businesspeople over TRA’s unfair calculations of various taxes. “In our previous meeting, we proposed areas that should be looked at to improve the business environment and we commend the government that many of them have been fully addressed,’’ he said. Mr Mengi said there was political will among the political class and that TPSF was happy with the manner the government has managed to intensify the war against graft. In his remarks, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa promised to address all the issues that were raised by the businesspeople during an open discussion. He asked the business community to grab various opportunities in the ongoing major projects in the country, including the Hoima-Tanga crude oil pipeline, Stiegler’s Gorge, Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) and Lindi based Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). “So far, over 39 local companies have started to grab opportunities in these projects and our intention is to create the best business environment in the country to benefit all parties,’’ he said