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Govt loses 70bn/- to tax evasion in charcoal business

16th March 2012
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Dr Felician Kilahama

Tanzania is loosing over 70bn/- annually due to tax evasion by charcoal businesses despite the fact that they negatively impact on the environment.

This was said yesterday by Dr Felician Kilahama, who is the Director of Forestry and Beekeeping in the Ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources when explaining the challenges facing the forestry sector.

He said the government loses a lot of money in this area due to negligence in arresting the culprits, adding that there is a need to reverse the worsening situation.

Dr Kilahama said tax evasion has resulted in the lack of some social services to members of the public by the government because financial problems.

“This is a substantial amount of money, and if fully collected, would help improve various social economic activities,” he added.

It is estimated that between 15, 000 to 40,000 sachets of charcoal enter Dar es Salaam city alone daily and an equally combined amount goes into the other major cities towns in the country.

A survey conducted by this paper in Dar es Salaam recently shows that Temeke District is leading in for charcoal demand followed by Ilala and Kinondoni.

Speaking to this paper in the city forestry development stakeholder Juma Mwakikoti said charcoal use can be minimised if there is alternative source of energy such as natural gas and solar power.

Many ordinary people cannot afford alternative energy at their homes and instead end up using charcoal.

“The cost of installing alternative energy is high. That is why many people find it difficult to rely on it,” he said.

He pointed out that few people can afford to purchase Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) hence continue using charcoal for cooking.

“The price of a cylinder of LPG (30kg) was 20,000/- two years ago, but now it has jumped to 50,000/-. How can an ordinary person buy gas?” he queried.

The only was out is for the government and perhaps donors agencies to increase funding in alternative energy supply, he said.

If alternative energy could get enough support it would help to reduce deforestation, he said.

He also called on the government to promote the use of LPG, by adopting favourable fiscal, social and environmental policies.

The government has to build the capacity of stakeholders especially at the community level, implement environmental management plans, improve awareness for the stakeholders to understand forest and land laws and institute village by-laws to regulate the use of natural resources, he said.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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