MPs aghast at TRA take-over of tourism sector revenue collection

13Jun 2020
Francis Kajubi
The Guardian
MPs aghast at TRA take-over of tourism sector revenue collection

​​​​​​​MEMBERS of Parliament have faulted the government’s plan to introduce a mechanism for the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) to collect revenues generated from tourism and conservation activities starting July 1.

Previously, the funds were collected by the Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA), Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA).

Mashimba Ndaki (Maswa West-CCM), the chairman of the Parliamentary Budget Committee, said the decision has come at a time when these authorities are struggling to recover from the adverse impacts of Covid-19.

The specific authorities have been successfully collecting revenues and executing its obligations properly.

“The government has been collecting taxes from these authorities. There are specific reasons for the government opting to directly collect the generated revenues,” he said.

He added: “The committee would like to know the main purposes for this decision because there are many government agencies that provide services and their revenues are not collected by TRA.”

The committee advised the government to reconsider its decision since the institutions perform their duties properly. The committee sees the decision as a move to grab the institution’s revenue sources, it stated.

Such decisions should be implemented after the recovery of the tourism sector, he said, insisting that the country’s tourism sector is among economic sectors which have been severely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ndaki asked the government to outline plans to empower TANAPA, TAWA and NCAA to enable them implement strategic plans for improvement of the tourism sector.

For the system to work, the government should first allocate budgetary funds for these institutions through the Ministry Natural Resources and Tourism, and the funds should go directly to the agencies.

Jafar Michael (Moshi Urban-CCM) expressed worries that the decision might affect the institutions’ operations.

Saada Mkuya (Welezo-CCM) cautioned that taking revenues from these institutions would undermine efforts to develop the sector since it requires a lot of innovation and creativity. This is vital on account of competition at regional and international level.

“The African tourism sector looks alike. We need to be innovative to compete, so these institutions should be funded to have muscles to efficiently implement their duties,” she said.

She said Kenya, the country’s main competitor in the sector, has in the 2020/21 budget proposals abolished landing and parking fees for planes with intention of attracting more tourists.

“We must implement similar initiatives to lure more tourists,” the MP underlined.

Magdalena Sakaya (Kaliua –CUF) said: “The decision is likely to kill the tourism sector since TRA is going to be in charge of all revenues collected by these institutions.”

Delivering government budget estimates on Thursday, Finance and Planning Minister Dr Philip Mpango said the government has proposed a financing plan for TANAPA, NCAA and TAWA which were intensely affected by Covid-19.

He said the financing will include improvement of tourism and conservation infrastructure damaged by heavy rains.

“These institutions will receive subventions from the government budget to cover their operational costs for employees’ salaries, other charges as well as development expenditure,” he specified.