Dar es Salaam. The government yesterday walked the talk by engaging Chinese investors in a dialogue on how to make Tanzania’s investment and business climate more attractive to investors from the Asian nation.
The meeting came after the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s (Investment), Ms Angellah Kairuki, promised Parliament last week that the government would organise a meeting with Chinese investors to discuss challenges that they face in the country.
The Tanzania-China High-Level Investment and Business Environment Dialogue was a candid roundtable that saw members of the Chinese business community voice their grievances and government officials issuing responses and guidance on what needs to be done to improve the situation.
Chinese Business Chamber of Tanzania (CBCT) official Huang Zaisheng listed harassment, bureaucracy, delays in payments for jobs undertaken by Chinese contractors, rejection of work permit applications and delays in issuing the same as some of the challenges they encounter.
The list also includes numerous inspections by regulatory bodies and unending tax assessments by Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) officials.
“At times, we get harassed by government agencies such as immigration, Osha (Occupational Safety and Health Authority) and police. We receive visitors time and again,” he said.
Responding to some of the complaints, assistant labour commissioner Mercy Jilala said some investors tended to submit incomplete documents that lacked signatures or stamps, leading to delays.
“If you submit complete documents, the permit can be issued within 40 days, and if it is rejected, the commissioner for labour will tell you why,” she said, noting that some investors fail to explain why they require work permits for their workers.
TRA taxpayer education manager Diana Massalla said investors needed to have proper documents with them.
Opening the meeting, Ms Kairuki said a total of 150 Chinese investors were in attendance , adding that similar dialogues would be held with various other investors.
She said the meeting was part of measures being taken by the government to improve Tanzania’s investment climate.
A representative from the Chinese Contractors Association, Li Dechao, said the government owed Chinese construction companies a total of $171 million as of March, this year, adding that the amount was increasing.
Official data from the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC), which is under the Prime Minister’s Office, shows that China was the leading source of foreign direct investment in Tanzania, with a total of 723 projects, valued at $5.963 billion (about Sh14 trillion) as of 2017.
China was followed by the UK, which invested in 936 projects, worth a total of $5.54 billion (Sh13 trillion), in Tanzania from 1990 to 2017, TIC figures show.
The US is third on the list, having invested some $4.721 billion (about Sh11 trillion) in Tanzania during the same period.
Sino-Tanzanian trade is worth Sh9.1 trillion, Chinese ambassador Wang Ke said on Wednesday.