Zanzibar energy bill, tax rates listed as unresolved

21May 2022
Francis Kajubi
The Guardian
Zanzibar energy bill, tax rates listed as unresolved

​​​​​​​SEVEN contentious issues related to electricity billing for Zanzibar, revenue sharing and tax issues are listed as unresolved Union matters, the National Assembly heard yesterday.

Dr Selemani Jafo, the Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office (Union and Environment) told legislators that the issues still feature disputes about revenues for Zanzibar shares in the East African Currency Board which collapsed in 1966, along with sharing of profits generated by the Bank of Tanzania (BoT).

He was responding to Abbas Ali Hassan (Fuoni) who asked how many union matters have not yet been resolved and what efforts are being made to address them, to which the minister noted that since President Samia Suluhu Hassan assumed office last March, eleven union matters out of 25 have been resolved.

From 2012 to 2015 the union resolved seven matters, thus adding eleven matters in one year was phenomenal, illustrating the goodwill of the president in mutual reconciliation, the minister affirmed.

Other union matters yet to be resolved include the registration of firearms, electricity costs when the Mainland power utility (TANESCO) supplies power to the Zanzibar Electricity Corporation (ZECO).

There are also complaints by Zanzibar traders on double taxation, amounts of Pay As You Earn (PAYE) deducted from salaries, plus withholding tax compliance.

Working on recommendations by the Joint Finance Commission and issue of the export of Zanzibar sugar to the Mainland poses challenges, he said.

Efforts are being made to resolve remaining union matters being contested, with VPO strengthening the resolution mechanism, he elaborated, specifying that the two parts have been working on setback matters and decisions by the joint committee secretariat for evaluation.

The Union government and the Zanzibar authorities have separate teams working on decisions of the joint committee on better approaches in resolving the pending matters.

In October 2020, the government announced that five issues were resolved and officially removed from the list of contentious issues of the union.

These include meeting procedures for the joint committee examining union issues, along with inking an accord on oil and gas investments, while others were agreements on charges on cargo shipped from Zanzibar at the port of Dar es Salaam, participation of Zanzibar in the East African Community (EAC) and its involvement in international and regional issues.

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