Tanzania: Magufuli Closes Debate On Vat

Dar es Salaam - President John Magufuli said yesterday the government would not review its decision to impose Value Added Tax on the tourism sector.

Addressing newly promoted senior police officers at State House, Dr Magufuli said the government would not give in to pressure from tour operators or their foreign agents.

VAT imposed on tourism services has been strongly opposed by a number of industry players, who have been lobbying hard to have it scrapped.

Some groups had appealed for the President's intervention after Parliament passed the 2016/17 Budget last month. Local tour operators and agents in Europe wrote to the government recently, asking that the tax be suspended for a year.

Yesterday, however, President Magufuli poured cold water on any hopes that the government was ready to consider waiving the tax.

He said those who were required to pay the tax had no choice but to comply, adding that the government had no plan to review its decision.

Responding to the concern that Tanzania risked pricing itself out of the regional tourism market, President Magufuli said it was better to have 500,000 tourists who paid taxes than a million who did not.

"The country's development depends on the revenue we collect. This is the money that is used to implement various development projects, so there is no way we can remove VAT for the sake of maintaining a high number of tourists," he said.

"It doesn't make sense for the country to attract a big number of tourists, but fail to benefit from them."

President Magufuli said fears of a drop in the number of tourist arrivals would not prevent the government from implementing its development agenda. He also said VAT being charged at Dar es Salaam port would not be scrapped despite reports of a sharp fall in the amount of cargo passing through the port.

"It's clear that whoever uses our port must pay the requisite charges. We have no time for people who are reluctant to accept our terms. We would rather have fewer ships docking at the port."

The Head of State said there would be no "free money" during his time at State House, adding that everything would be done systematically according to rules and regulations.

"Some people are claiming that there are no guests in hotels, but this will not change our ambition...we are moving forward," he said in response to reports that hotels were closing down in various parts of the country as a result of the government's cost-cutting measures.

President Magufuli directed Inspector General of Police Ernest Mangu to transfer all civilians working with the Police Force and replace them with officers with the right qualifications.

This would promote integrity in the force and ensure proper use of funds, he said.

"Bring their names to Public Service Management so that they can be assigned other duties outside the Police Force. I'm sure we have qualified police officers for every position."

President Magufuli said all police departments should be manned by officers with the relevant qualifications.

He asked the promoted officers to stick to the integrity oath they took yesterday.

"I urge you to act professionally, respect everyone and never take this promotion for granted. It is up to you to prove that you deserve your promotion.

"Go about your duties without fear or favour...we trust you and expect you to boost the morale of those under you," Dr Magufuli said.

The Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Mwigulu Nchemba, challenged the promoted officers to be obedient and deliver as per the public's expectations.

He said the ministry would support them and ensure they deliver despite financial constraints and other challenges.

"You should now prove that you deserve your promotion. It is not easy to be trusted by the most trusted person in the country. I challenge you to abide by the oath you took today.

"Let's work much harder than before. The world is changing and we are likely to face many challenges accompanying such changes," Mr Nchemba said.

For his part, Mr Mangu thanked the President for promoting the officers, and asked them to serve the public and the country diligently.

"We will help the ministry ensure that these officers abide by the oath they have taken today and in case of any misconduct, I will let you know after we take appropriate measures," he told Dr Magufuli.

The ceremony also attended by Attorney General George Masaju, who asked the promoted officers to work in accordance with constitutional requirements.

Earlier, Ethics Secretariat Commissioner Salome Kaganda said she hoped the oath would lead to transparency and integrity among public officials and make Tanzania corruption-fee.

The promoted officers promised to work hard to meet the public's expectations.

"It's an honour to be here today. I promise to work even harder. It's a new challenge, but I'm ready for it," Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police (SACP) Renatha Mzinga, who is also the Lindi Regional Police Commander, told The Citizen.

SACP Onesmo Lyanga thanked the President for the recognition he had accorded him.

"I would like to thank His Excellency the President for the promotion. I'm indebted to him and the people I'm supposed to serve, and I promise that I won't let them down," the Simiyu Regional Police Commander said.

Source: The Citizen