Government appoints team of experts to look into levies controversy

Finance and Planning minister Mwigulu Nchemba addresses a past news conference. PHOTO | FILE

Summary

  • Dr Nchemba yesterday said the government had appointed a team of experts following the ruling CCM’s directive on the controversial levies on electronic money transfers
  • The experts are looking at the best way of collecting the revenue.

Tarime. The government has appointed a team of experts to work on the controversial levies on electronic money transactions, the Minister of Finance and Planning said yesterday.

Dr Mwigulu Nchemba told a public rally Sirari, Tarime District, that the government would continue charging the levies on electronic money transfers and other taxes, noting, however, that some changes will be effected to reflect the recommendations of the ruling party on the matter.

“Following the party’s recommendations, the government has appointed a team of experts which has already started undertaking a comprehensive analysis of the matter,” he said, and urged Tanzanians to be patient.

The experts are looking at the best way of collecting the revenue.

Dr Nchemba said the team of experts will then come up with “the most friendly way” of collecting the revenue in a manner that will put into consideration the interests of Tanzanians.

“We have received the recommendations from the ruling party…It is possible that in the process [of working on the levies], we may have wronged each other, which is normal for human beings. Allow me, however, to say that a country cannot develop without revenue,” he said.

In July, Parliament amended the National Payment System Act by imposing a new levy on all electronic money transactions to raise government revenue.

The fees became effective last month after the enactment of the Electronic Transactions Fee Regulation.

However, the levies have been roundly criticised, with some quarters saying they were worsening the already rising cost of living.

As a result, CCM’s secretary for Ideology and Publicity, Mr Shaka Hamdu Shaka, said last week that the ruling party’s Central Committee – which held its meeting on Wednesday in Dar es Salaam – had received and made in-depth discussions on the government budgetary measures for executing development projects in accordance with the CCM Election Manifesto 2020-2025.

He said though the CC was aware of the fact that the government had enabled the construction of 234 healthcare centres, 214 secondary schools and many other projects, the levies have equally made the lives of Tanzanians difficult.

“After contemplating and an in-depth discussion, the CC of the National Executive Council (NEC) has seen the importance of the government to listen to citizens’ views on the budget execution especially on the area of electronic transaction levies,” Mr Shaka said.

Dr Mwigulu said yesterday that considering the situation that the world was currently traversing through, there was no way that payment of taxes would be avoided if the country was to maintain the tempo of implementing its mega and other development projects.

“It should be noted that we are implementing mega projects, including the Nyerere Hydropower Dam, the Standard Gauge Railway line and others. We are doing so because there is no way that we can relent on these mega projects. They have to be implemented and completed,” he said.

He said having received the recommendations of the ruling party, the focus will be on how to implement the projects in a manner that protects the economic wellbeing of Tanzanians.

According to Dr Nchemba, Tanzania will need 17,000 new classrooms next year hence the need to up the revenue collection mechanism to meet the requirements.

Speaking at the event, Tarime Rural Member of Parliament Mwita Waitara detailed a number of challenges facing people in his constituency.

Among the challenges, he said, include residents in his area being prohibited from importing building materials from the neighboring Kenya where they cost less than in Tanzania.

“These products are sold at affordable prices in Kenya but when residents attempt to buy them from there, they are arrested by Tanzanian authorities and Tanzania Revenue Authority officials. After arresting them, their products also get nationalised,” he said.

He however noted that his constituency was one of the beneficiaries of the money collected in form of levies, saying it has received Sh3 billion for the construction of the headquarters for Tarime Rural District Council and roads in the area.