Dar es Salaam. The new chairman for Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF), Salum Shamte will prioritise five key issues as he seeks to play a key role in fostering dialogue between members of the business community and the government for the sake of improving the country’s business climate.
His first task will be to make a close follow-up on implementation of the Blueprint which the government adopted in May this year (2018) to set the stage for a raft of amendments to laws and regulations governing the conduct of businesses in Tanzania.
The blueprint – prepared after thorough consultations with various private sector associations and World Bank officials – will see the government initiating amendments of various laws including those governing Value Added Tax (VAT), Indicative prices for imports, Immigration and Labour, Social Security and environmental management among others.
“I was among the team that spent almost five years to prepare the Blueprint and now, my duty will be to start from where my predecessor ended in as far as the implementation of this document is concerned in my capacity as chairman,” he told The Citizen in his office recently.
The second priority area, according to Mr Shamte, is to broaden and strengthen dialogue between the government and the private sector by bringing it down to village, ward and district levels.
“I will arrange dialogues with local government authorities through regional business councils, making sure that there is a healthy partnership between the public and private sectors at all levels,” he said.
Ultimately, this should build mutual trust between the public and private sector players.
“In dialogues, we will be able to prove that the private and public sectors must operate as friends. That way, we will be able to help change mindsets of some public officials so they can swiftly facilitate businesspeople and investors,” he said.
The dialogue will also ensure that members of the business community are able to abide by the rule of law and that violators are brought to book by relevant authorities.
The third issue that will take a good chunk of Mr Shamte’s time as TPSF chairman will be to finalize and establish a National Private Sector Development Policy and Strategy which also aims at creating a conducive environment for businesses.
“The preparation began in 2012. So far, it has already been drafted by the government. We are currently reviewing it to see if it will be implementable and favourable to private sector before approving it,” he noted.
According to him, the national private sector policy and strategy will culminate in the formation of a database that will put all private sector practitioners together, identifying their numbers and capacity. “About 82 per cent of private sector operations are informal. We want to formalize them all by knowing where they are; what they do and how we can help them to increase productivity and be competitive,” he said.
Mr Shamte will spend a considerable time on nurturing the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) during Mr Shamte’s first two-year term.
“I want to see them grow….I want to see how we can remove all the obstacles to their growth…. I have already requested for a meeting with the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) governor to deliberate on how SMEs can be well financed and grow,” he said.
His fifth priority, he said, will be insist on good governance in the private sector, building trust to government and other public entities.
“I will insist business community to abide by laws and regulations. This entails paying taxes on time, keeping the environment safe as well as helping other small enterprises to grow,” he said.
Mr Shamte was elected the new TPSF chairman in August to succeed Mr Reginald Mengi who retired after serving his two terms of two years each.