Friday, August 24, 2018

Private sector seeks to mend fences with government

Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF)

Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) executive director Godfrey Simbeye briefs journalists in Dar es Salaam on Thursday August 23 on next week’s TPSF annual meeting. Right is TPSF membership director Louis Accaro. PHOTO | SALIM SHAO 

By Alfred Zacharia @azacharia3 azacharia@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. Members of the business community meet in Dar es Salaam next week to discuss ethical issues that touch upon their trustworthiness in the eyes of government officials.

Convened by the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF), the meeting comes against the backdrop of assumptions that the government was shifting its focus from doing business with the private sector to doing business with itself.

Speaking in Dar es Salaam on Thursday August 23, the TPSF executive director, Mr Godfrey Simbeye, said the foundation’s annual general meeting will seek to unveil the reasons behind the declining trust that the government holds for the private sector.

Revealing that Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa will attend the meeting, Mr Simbeye said there’s a growing tendency in the government to associate members of the business community with unethical behavior patterns, including corruption, tax evasion and false invoicing.

“As members of the private sector, we believe that no trader or investor opts to be corrupt. There must be reasons behind this, and these are some of the issues that will be discussed,” he stated. During the meeting, the private sector is expected to outline to the government the factors that prompt some businessmen to bribe, avoid paying taxes, etc., the TPSF chief executive intimated.

“We are aware that business people sometimes experience hardships in the conduct of their operations, and that’s precisely one of the factors which force some of them to resort to bribery. All the factors will be discussed at the meeting,” he stressed.

“It has reached a point where the government feels happy to do business with itself (public institutions) instead of with the private sector… This shows that there could be a problem somewhere.”

Citing the construction of University of Dar es Salaam hostels by the Tanzania Buildings Agency (TBA) as an example, Mr Simbeye said the fact that the president proclaimed openly that it was cheaper to build the premises using state-owned contractors instead of using private sector contractors was a clear indication that there already is serious mistrust between the two sectors.

“We all heard our head of State saying it was cheaper and more trustworthy to put the project under TBA instead of private constructors… If the situation does not change, the future of the private sector will be bleak.”

TPSF wants to use the meeting to discuss the possibility of establishing a code of conduct intended to govern the private sector.

The code would test and determine how a particular member or company is trustworthy in terms of paying taxes, internal and independent audits, corruption scandals, et cetera, before joining TPSF.

The meeting will also elect a successor to Mr Reginald Mengi as TPSF chairman.

The new chairman will be elected from one of the foundation’s 14 clusters, and Industry, Trade and Investments minister Charles Mwijage will grace the election.

Mr Mengi – who is the executive chairman of his IPP Limited business empire – retires from the TPSF chairmanship after serving two terms of two years each.

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