Farmers decry bureaucracy and high taxes

03Jul 2016
Abela Msikula
Guardian On Sunday
Farmers decry bureaucracy and high taxes

Small scale farmers have faulted the government over bureaucratic bottle neck and exorbitant taxes it has imposed on their business undertakings,saying the annual Sh1m worth unnecessary levies on individual farmers undermined both the growth and market of sesame,rice,beans and sunflower cultures.

Farmers

The struggling farmers attempted the lobby during the ongoing 40th International Trade Fair exhibitions at Saba Saba grounds in Dar es Salaam on Friday.

They said Tanzania Tax Revenue and the related authorities have been unfairly imposing charges detrimental to the business whose local and regional markets were still in their infancy.

“Though prices of the products once sold outside Tanzania would be paying off, the great challenge is over how to get the products across the border,” laments Yuster Makwawa, a member of Tanzania Women Chamber of Commerce (TWCC) from Tunduma in Mbeya Region.

“With 50kg of rice or maize to cost a double price of Sh8,000 in neighboring countries such as Congo, Zambia and Mozambique, it’s a business worth working were the conditions friendly enough in Tanzania,” she said.

She said the cost of living at the border towns in over three-month seasonal span in search for market are just too high for farmers of their caliber to afford, apparently suggesting the government into looking for internal market for them.

Makwawa was complaining over the lack of market, but she had not slight idea on the establishment of a free trading system across the East African countries, in spite of the tenure in a chamber of commerce.

The system allows for free movement of traders across the borders of the East African Community member states, but not extended to the products market paradises in Congo, Zambia and Mozambique.

TWCC Board Executive Director Mwajuma Ankoni admitted that not all members were familiar with the East African free trading system because the chamber has been gradually campaigning the system among its members.

She said they were currently giving priority to coordinating business women in central regions with those from the border areas who had formed business associations.

“We currently visit groups and teach them how to deal with the local and the East African markets. But high living costs abroad has been a stumbling barrier for most women in meeting the luxurious markets abroad though we have in a way managed to lure sponsors like International Labour Organization and Telad organization into our aide,” she said.

The needs are high in the sense that most business people‘s products do not compete in international markets due to lack of reacquired standards.

But Theonestina Katanga from Kagera whose group has been a frequent invitee to Rwanda Trade Exhibitions has never attended the event due to financial constraints, saying that the sponsors would support only the first trip, if at all.

“They open the markets, withdraw and leave us alone. Other enthusiastic organizations would come in to charge us a minimum of Sh400,000 for a trip, too high to afford,” she said.

But other women from Kagera maintained that there was no market in Rwanda for their products since they shared a common product culture.

They, therefore suggested the government to establish one-stop centers for their businesses’ registration processes as well as reduction in levies at-least to Sh300,000 per year.

They also complained over conditions imposed by public institutions like the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) that mandates, among others, possession of a special building for the products as a pre-requisite in the issuance of relevant business documents, saying they could not afford the expenses.

They also urged the government into holding frequent quarterly trade fairs for business integration that would help in boosting both advertisement and market of the products.

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