AGRICULTURE, Livestock and Fisheries Minister, Dr Charles Tizeba has warned council directors across the country to stop charging levies which have been scrapped by the government.
The Minister’s directives follow complaints by traders that despite the abolishment of various taxes and levies, some of them were still forced to make the payments. The government recently announced the scrapping of 108 taxes and levies on agriculture, livestock and fisheries subsectors.
The 2017/18 budget for the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries indicated that 80 out of 139 levies were removed from agriculture while 23 and five levies were scrapped from livestock and fisheries products.
Dr Tizeba sounded the warning after receiving complaints from Tanga Fresh Milk Processing Factory management during his two-day tour of Tanga Region. He ordered directors for Muheza and Korogwe district councils to stop charging the levies and reimburse the money collected from the company.
Dr Tizeba said that the taxes and levies that will be charged included inspection charges on commodities and not production charges.
“This is theft and the levies paid are only three per cent instead of five per cent which was charged earlier,” the Minister said.
The meeting between the Minister and factory board members was also attended by other officials from his ministry, Tanga Regional Commissioner Mr Martine Shigela, Tanga District Commissioner Mr Thobias Mwilapwa, and Tanga Member of Parliament Dustan Kitandula.
The Factory Manager, Michael Karata, accused Korogwe and Muheza district councils of charging five per cent levy on milk although it has been scrapped and the milk fee for Tanzania Milk Processors Association.
Minister Tizeba said that the government announced reduction of levies on milk, livestock and fisheries related products to three per cent instead of the previous five per cent insisting that he will deal with council directors who go against the government directives under the excuse of not getting the official circular.
The Minister also faulted the system that recognised only processed milk and directed the ministry’s permanent secretary to review it because it does not show the actual consumption of the product and its availability because large quantities end up at household level.
He said although the system is international it has shortfalls advising that they should also get statistics on milk consumed at family level.
Dr Tizeba, however said that the government has set aside 34 million US dollars for improving the system of milk collection which will be implemented as pilot in highlands regions.
Tabling the 2017/18 budget estimates for the Ministry of Agriculture, in May this year, Dr Tizeba said that the decision to scrap the taxes was meant to reduce the burden of numerous taxes that farmers have been subjected to; leading to high costs of farm inputs, inflated prices of crops and products to consumers.
“The government’s plan to ensure that taxes, levies and fees that were a nuisance to farmers, pastoralists and fishermen are removed and leave only those having direct relationship with the development of the respective sectors,” Dr Tizeba affirmed.