Tanzania: Tour Operators Call for Magufuli Intervention

Tourism stakeholders are now pleading for an urgent intervention of President John Pombe Magufuli over the Value-Added Tax (VAT) to the sector services.

They said their demands to have the proposed taxation plan on tourism services withheld for sometime or scrapped altogether appear to have hit against a wall as it remains in the Finance Act which starts to work July 1, 2016.

"The only solution is to get this matter to the attention of the Head of State" lamented the executive secretary of the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (Tato) Mr Sirili Akko on Tuesday evening.

He said at the end of another hastily convened meeting on the crisis that intensive lobbying to the government ministers and MPs on the issue in Dodoma recently have shown no sympathy with them.

The meeting attended by over 500 tour operators and other stakeholders in the tourism industry agreed that since the proposed tax would gravely hurt the tourism industry, it was now time that the president intervenes.

VAT on tourism services, announced by the minister for Finance and Planning Dr Phillip Mpango when he tabled the government budget on June 8th, has shocked players in the industry, particularly the tour operators.

After the first meeting organized by Tato, two days after the budget speech, a team of tour operators and other players rushed to Dodoma in order to persuade the government to reverse the plan before the new VAT takes effect.

Tuesday's meeting, held days after Dr Mpango wound up the budget debate without any sign to rescind on the taxation, was rather stormy and it took time before the association's officials brought down tempers.

Although the consensus of the session was that the government should delay the implementation of proposed taxation for at least six months.

However, other tour operators preferred that the matter be taken to the court of law, with some calling for a temporary injunction before the VAT in question is enforced.

It took the diplomacy of Tato vice chairperson Henry Kimambo to convince the agitated members to opt for a push for delay in the implementation of the legislation.

"Once you go to the Court, then the government will be dealing with us through the Court. And who owns the Court?" he asked, warning that the anti-VAT path should be pursued in a way that would make the government to act hard on them.

Source: The Citizen