Thursday, March 8, 2018

EDITORIAL: Act on illicit liquor to boost business climate

It is now almost a year since the government banned the import, manufacture, sale and consumption of alcohol packaged in sachets.

The reason for the ban remains valid today – to protect Tanzanian youth from the ravages of cheap alcohol and environmental pollution.

To achieve its socioeconomic developmental goals, Tanzania needs an economically-productive population that really works as promulgated in President John Magufuli’s clarion call Hapa Kazi Tu! (“We’re here to work, work and work some more”).

Fortunately, the figures are there. According to the government’s second Five-Year Development Plan (FYDP-2), Tanzania needs Sh107 trillion from 2016/17 to 2020/21 to earnestly embark upon its industrialisation agenda.

This calls for the need to attract new investors, even as we nurture the existing ones. Hence, too, the need to have a strong, healthy youth at all times.

It is astounding, therefore, that – despite the ban on cheap alcoholic drinks-in-sachets – the products are still available in the market.

It is also noted that illicit liquor is now bottled for sale without certified approval of the Tanzania Bureau of Standards and/or the Tanzania Revenue Authority. The relevant authorities must look into this, too.

As vociferously urged by some MPs during the recent parliamentary sitting in Dodoma, the government must move swiftly to effectively enforce the ban – thus ending once and for all the trade in illicit liquors.

By doing this sooner than later, the government would send clear signals to current and prospective investors that it pays to inject their money into the Tanzanian economy, and that doing so is much to the investors’ advantage as it is to Tanzanians on a win-win basis.

At the end of the day, more investments would translate into increased jobs and revenue for Tanzania. When that happens, it speeds up implementation of socioeconomic development projects – no doubt resulting in the semi-industrialised, middle-income economy envisaged in the National Development Vision 2025.