Small and medium entrepreneurs in Lindi and Mtwara regions have request the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism to scrap tax on raffia baskets and other raffia made products saying they don’t benefit anything because of the levy.
This was revealed on Wednesday by Mary Chikala, Managing Director of Masasi based company, Remarch Enterprise who was in Dar es Salaam for a five-day SMEs exhibition organised by ILO.
Although they normally pay 105,000/- per year to the ministry and obtain harvest permit from the ministry, they still charge 100/- per basket when they sell the products in other regions, she said.
“Also if you don’t pay the tax to the ministry they normally confiscate all your products,” she said.
“We therefore ask the ministry to support us in this context or give us more clarification on this extra tax,” she said.
She said they have met with top district officials including directors on this issue but nothing has been done to help them.
“As SMEs we still request the ministry to drop the 100/- charge for the products we make from raffia fibres while we pay 105,000/- for raffia harvesting to the same,” she lamented.
At least 1000 SMEs in Lindi and Mtwara regions use natural raffia fibres to design and weaving homemade different products.
She said if they would continue to do business in such a situation many would be discouraged, adding that at the moment there is a big market for natural fibre products in the US, UK, Canada and Europe.
She said there is need to support them because SMEs have become the engine of the economic with more than 80 percent of the country’s industrial production.
“SMEs are an important sector that contributes greatly to the economic growth of the country, their development is important for sustainable economic growth and poverty alleviation in our societies,” she said.
Also it plays an important role in employing the growing labour force and reduces the severe unemployment that threatens the survival of the community.