Tanzania MPs speak out against business closures

Thursday May 16 2019

Finance and Planning deputy minister Ashatu

Finance and Planning deputy minister Ashatu Kijaji. Photo |Erick Boniphace 

By Sharon Sauwa and Habel Chidawali

Dodoma. Lawmakers were yesterday up in arms over business closures, lagging implementation of the Mchuchuma and Liganga projects and the performance of the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA).

The matters were raised as MPs debated the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s 2019/20 budget proposals.

However, Finance and Planning deputy minister Ashatu Kijaji downplayed concerns about business closures, saying between July, last year, and last month, 16,252 traders shut their businesses, but 147,818 new businesses were opened during the same period.

“If businesses were closing down with no new entrants in the market, it could mean that our economy is dormant. That is not the case, and that’s why the revenue collection trend is promising,” she said.

Lawmakers from both sides of the House said when debating the ministry’s Sh100.38 billion budget that the government should reassess the docket’s priority areas in a way that can boost the country’s economy.

Dr Raphael Chegeni (Busega-CCM) said he was not happy with the large number of taxes businesspeople were required to pay, adding that new businesses were especially vulnerable.

“We are disappointing Tanzanians,” he said.

Dr Chegeni also took issue with the way foreign investors were being treated.

“There is this perception that we see foreigners as problematic, and that we want to go it alone in our development endeavours.”

Dr Chegeni also rejected Dr Kijaji’s statement on business closures.

“It’s simply not true. Those that are being closed are much more than those being established. We have to ask ourselves why.”

Ms Hawa Ghasia (Mtwara Rural-CCM) demanded an explanation from Industry and Trade minister Joseph Kakunda on the stalled implementation of the Mchuchuma and Liganga projects.

“If we had the Mchuchuma and Liganga projects up and running, the SGR project would be using locally produced steel instead of importing it from outside,” she said

Ms Hawa Mwaifongo (Special Seats-Chadema) criticised TRA, saying the authority was a thorn in businesspeople’s flesh instead of being a partner.

“They have become authoritarian, and are no longer interested in listening to anyone. They have caused countless businesses and factories to shut down” she said.

Dr Dalaly Kafumu (Igunga-CCM) called for a review of all laws that were scaring investors away.

He said laws passed recently were good as far as Tanzania’s interests were concerned, but some sections should be reviewed.