Sh20m fine for kilo of expired meat? This is outlandish

12Jan 2019
Editor
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Sh20m fine for kilo of expired meat? This is outlandish

COMPLAINTS are being heard from the hospitality subsector that some members of the Hoteliers Association of Tanzania (HAT) have found themselves having to contend with fines ranging from Sh20m to Sh200m early last month for small amounts of meat suspected to have expired found in their kitchens, etc

The complainants said that the demand notice for payment of fines said the fines must be paid within 24 hours, that is, permit no discussion or referral to any panel of dispute, complaint or appeal. 

The rates used were a fine of 20million shillings for a kilo of meat judged to have expired, by definition, say by one day.

Even without a follow up to see how far and in what manner such cases or disputes were finally sorted out, either administratively or by some tribunal, it is hard to see how such a regulatory condition can even be thought of.

The other issue is how far such a regulatory dispensation been formulated and presented at the relevant ministerial and helpfully, legislative avenues for instance parliamentary committees for the sector concerned, as it is a public matter worth of committee attention.

Chances are that it did not reach any of those levels as it would be filtered out; regulatory organizations impose fines, sit out the bedlam.

Given the extent to which efforts are being made to collect revenues at optimal levels so that public projects are implemented without a hitch, it isn’t hard to figure out a chuckling bureaucrat imagining that such fines will be well taken by higher authorities as a hidden drive to collect revenues. 

Yet such fines, if they are meant to be implemented with full backing of the government, can easily cripple the hoteliers sub-sector, or make it impossible for any new hotels to be built as investors know clever predators sit in wait to pounce on meat in refrigerators likely to expire on that day. This rule sabotages hotels, tourism.

 

Underhand methods to raise public revenues might for a while appear to whip up substantial amounts of money, but only to set in an irreparable motion towards decay of that sector, as trust lost in that manner is lost for good. 

The most likely explanation for putting up such rules is that it is evident that public sector officialdom believes that economic growth arises from what is being done by the government, and see the private sector more or less as a legion of tax evaders.

How far that sentiment is cultivated at high levels is debatable, but removing it is difficult, in which case bureaucrats think only of overburdening investors.

Initial reports said that the measure was part of a crackdown by the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries where agencies like the police force, the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) and  the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) were involved.

That means it isn’t a low level regulatory exercise but a properly organized ministerial campaign. If it has full authority, we shall see results of the move later.

 

 

 

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