Tanzanian government to curb dishonest traders who smuggle sugar


Days are numbered for dishonest traders who smuggle and dump sugar that is meant for transit in the local market as well as diverting subsidised sweetener imported for industrial for human consumption, as the government is working on measures to curb the practice. The move is part of efforts to check against losses of taxes that the country incurs by the illegal imports which also have negative impact to local sugar producers and sugar cane farmers.

It is also feared that smuggled sugar could have health risks for users since it is not tested by authorities. “A team of experts is at present finalising a report on the measures, the document will enable us to estimate how much we lose in taxes each year and propose way forward.

“There have been suggestions as well that the existing duty remissions schemes be reviewed,” Finance Minister Saada Mkuya Salum told this newspaper on Saturday.

Industrial sugar imported in the East African Community (EAC) attracts only 10 per cent of import duty while normal sugar is charged 100 per cent in accordance to the regional grouping’s Common External Tariff (CET).

She noted with concern, however, that there are some cases where those issued with permits to import industrial sugar transfer the permits to other traders who misuse them by importing the sweetener for industrial production and end up selling the same for human consumption.

“It is unfortunate that even some religious institutions ask for the permits and end up misusing the documents,” Ms Mkuya lamented.

On Friday, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Co-operatives, Mr Godfrey Zambi, said the government has formed a task-force that is coordinated by the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) to check dumping in transit sugar in the local market.

According to Mr Zambi, spot inspections are also conducted at industries to evaluate the actual requirement of industrial sugar at the factories. The move will enable the government to issue permits for only the required sugar.

The statement followed reports of cheap sugar that has illegally entered into the country, flooding the market and threatening to choke off local producers, while the government says it has not issued import permit for domestic sugar for two years.

Local sugar producers say they had 55,585 tonnes of sugar as of December 31, last year from four mills, Kilombero Sugar, Mtibwa Sugar Estates, TPC Ltd and Kagera Sugar Ltd.

The cheap imported sugar that is so far distorting the local market may have been illegally imported or smuggled into the country, he said. “In two years the government has not issued the permit to import domestic sugar.

The imported product has been illegally smuggled into the country,” he said. According to the sugar board, Tanzania imported a total of 41,858 tonnes of domestic sugar in 2012/13 year and 182,845.39 tonnes in 2011/12. It imported 131,651 tonnes of industrial sugar in 2012/13 year and 101,528 tonnes in 2011/12.

The minister further said bulk sugar procurement earmarked for domestic sugar, would not start soon as it was announced earlier because the country has enough stocks of the product.

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Source: Africa Metro

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