Thursday, October 12, 2017

Agencies need to do more for development's sake

That the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) – the country’s premier tax revenue institution – managed to collect only Sh3.65 trillion during the first quarter of the current financial year is not particularly encouraging.

This is because that is only 21.3 per cent of the Sh17.1 trillion which the government targets to raise as domestic revenue to partly finance the 2017/18 national budget.

Put in perspective, TRA should raise an average of Sh1.49 trillion monthly from this month to June 30, 2018 to fully meet the set collection target. If no miracles happen, collecting such an amount in the remaining nine months is practically impossible.

Records show that the highest amount to have ever been raised to date was the Sh1.4 trillion collected in December 2016.

What this means is that TRA will have to more than pull up its socks to perform the requisite miracle. At a time when disbursements from Tanzania’s development partners are increasingly becoming unpredictable, Tanzania must on its own find ways and means of raising the funds needed to execute the country’s development agenda.

To do so, the government needs to look beyond TRA. For one, it will have to pay attention to even seemingly minor or frivolous complaints from investors – extant and prospective investors alike – and work on them as appropriate. The government will do well to remember that, although some investors have failed Tanzania in one way or another, this should not mean the end of the world.

Instead of coming up with measures intended to enable the taxman to further milk the already heavily-taxed salaried employees dry, the government should train and strain its focus on attracting more investments of the “win-win situation” type. TRA and all the government agencies that deal directly with investors/businesspeople must devise strategies that will make Tanzania the preferred investment destination in this part of Africa.