Minister: Meat, milk imports are eating into govt revenue’

26Dec 2018
The Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Minister: Meat, milk imports are eating into govt revenue’

IMPORTERS of meat and milk products are reported to have denied the government some 4.2bn/- in revenue, including in customs levy, in financial year 2017/2018.

A total of 2,376 kg of substandard meat and milk products have meanwhile been seized in a series of crackdowns carried out by the Livestock and Fisheries ministry.

The revelations come from Livestock and Fisheries minister Luhaga Mpina, who has said the products entered the country without those who were importing them caring to pay tax and without the expiry dates of the products being verified by the relevant state agencies.

The minister said that the crackdowns have enabled the impounding of 25,423 tonnes of animal feeds, “while it was discovered that no tax had been paid as the feeds entered the country”.

“The government will not sit idly by and helplessly watch the country being turned into a dumping site for meat and milk products unfit for use,” he noted.

Mpina was briefing journalists in Dar es Salaam yesterday on the results of an operation dubbed ‘Nzagamba’, which was carried out in two phases.

He said 26,295 tonnes of meat and milk products are known to have made it into the country’s market through illegal routes.

“The products were found being sold in various parts of the country, clearly posing a health risk to consumers – including making some develop cancer,” he added.

He warned that the government in general and the ministry in particular would not allow few unscrupulous individuals to endanger the lives of millions of Tanzanians, “which would also mean derailing the implementation of development projects in the name of welcoming, supporting or motivating investors”.

The minister referred to what he called a “recent uproar on social media in the country over criminal incidents said to have occurred during the crackdowns”.

He said Operation Nzagamba was purely and simply aimed at ending the illegal “filtering” of animal and plant products into Tanzania we well as controlling the exportation and import of the items.

“It is paradoxical seeing that Tanzania has the largest number of livestock in this part of the world but the value of the animal products we import has been rising dramatically over the years,” noted Mpina, saying most of the said imports entered the country through illegal routes.

He said dishonest elements out to make quick profits were tempted to bring expired products into the country mainly because the items were rejects available at throwaway price in the countries of origin.

“This evil trend is flooding the Tanzanian market with cheap substandard imports making it difficult for our own products to find buyers, and this is not only outright unacceptable since it endangers public health but also criminal,” the minister declared.

Authoritative data show that Tanzania boasts the third largest population of livestock in Africa – some 25 million head of cattle, 98 per cent of which are indigenous breeds, alongside 16.7 million goats, 8 million sheep, 2.4 million pigs, and 36 million chickens.