‘Sensitive’ goods to be cleared solely by state agency

Monday February 25 2019

Constitution and Legal Affairs Minister

Constitution and Legal Affairs Minister Palamagamba Kabudi 

By Louis Kolumbia @Collouis1999 lkolumbia@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. Operators in the clearing and forwarding business involving the importation and exportation of minerals and other “sensitive” goods have less than a week in which to shift to other businesses.

This is before a new law – the Tanzania Shipping Agencies Act (Act No. 14 of 2017) – takes effect. The law exclusively empowers the Tanzania Shipping Agency Corporation (Tasac) to carry out clearing and forwarding functions involving the importation and exportation of minerals, mineral concentrates, mining machinery and other equipment, products and/or extracts related to minerals and petroleum, as well as arms and ammunitions, live animals and government trophies.

Tasac stated in a newspaper advertisement on Friday, February 22, 2019 that it will officially undertake this exclusive mandate starting on March 4, 2019.

“Tasac would like to inform all stakeholders, and the general public, that from 4th March, 2019, no importer, exporter or any other party or institution – other than Tasac – shall be allowed to make any new declaration to the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) for the purpose of providing clearing and forwarding services of import or export of goods and/or items specified under the Act…” the statement reads in part.

The statement comes hardly a week after Barrick Gold Corporation announced that it would finally pay Tanzania $300 million (over Sh714bn at the current exchange rate), as part of its mining reform agreement with the government.

Constitution and Legal Affairs Minister Palamagamba Kabudi revealed that the pay cheque could come as early as March this year, with the paperwork for all the other agreements in the deal finalised.

Barrick Gold separately confirmed the development in a statement which suggested that the pay would likely unblock the ban on exports of copper concentrates that has been in place since 2016.

Prof Kabudi – who has been leading the Tanzanian team in the negotiations with Barrick Gold – was speaking shortly after President John Magufuli held talks at the State House in Dar es Salaam with a delegation from Barrick Gold led by its chief operations officer (COO) responsible for Africa and the Middle East, Dr Willem Jacobs.

But, actual implementation of Tasac’s exclusive mandate comes with some reservations. In the event, the Tanzania Freight Forwarders Association (Taffa) is seeking dialogue with the Tasac acting director general, Mr Japhet Maye, on how the mandate will be enforced.

“Taffa is expected to meet Mr Maye tomorrow (today) to deliberate on the roles to be undertaken by each side after implementation of the law commences,” Taffa secretary general Tony Swai told The Citizen over phone.

In Tasac’s public notice, the corporation has categorically restricted importers, exporters, clearing and forwarding agents, employers and their representatives from carrying out port clearance and forwarding activities of goods stipulated in Section 7(1)(a) of the new law with effect from March 4, 2019. Taffa members are required to hand over to Tasac all clearing and forwarding documents for imports and exports of the specified goods to enable it to conduct the requisite clearing and forwarding functions, the public notice by Tasac categorically states.

However, Mr Swai told The Citizen that Taffa had participated in the process to draft the new Tanzania Shipping Agency Act of 2017, and that the new law was born of the recommendations in the report of the second Presidential Committee on mineral concentrates that was compiled by the special committee chaired by Prof Nehemiah Osoro.

Among other things, the Osoro Report – which was formally handed to President Mgufuli at State House on June 12, 2017 – recommended reinstatement of the National Shipping Agency (Nasaco). In the event, it was replaced by Tasac. The Osoro Committee also recommended immediate review and amendment of the extant mining laws to ensure that Tanzania benefits more from its God-given natural resources.

“Tasac was formed purposely to control the import and export of Tanzania’s natural resources following weaknesses unveiled in Prof Osoro’s report,” said Mr Swai.

“Although Taffa was involved in drafting the new law, we also take note of several contentious issues that nonetheless sailed through. These include the issue of cargo to and from (landlocked) countries passing through our country. This is among the issues that need clarification from Tasac,” the Taffa chief stated.