By FINNIGAN WA SIMBEYE, 26th December 2011 @ 11:15, Total Comments: 0, Hits: 3478
STAKEHOLDERS in the agriculture sector want the government to make good of its pledge to establish Tanzania Agriculture Development Bank with significant and review the hostile tax and regulatory regime if the sector is to achieve rapid growth next year.
Agriculture Council of Tanzania Chairman, Salum Shamte and a member of Tanzania Horticultural Association, Erik Koster feel the sector has failed to attract a big number of potential private investors due to numerous taxes, lack of access to funding and numerous regulatory bodies.
Responding to the 'Daily News' questions as what should be given priority in 2012 to boost the agriculture sector, Mr Shamte who is also Managing Director of Katani Limited, said, "TADB formed with serious resources, cess removed or significantly reduced, the subsidy scheme streamlined and increased and incentives to attract private investment."
Shamte who is also SAGCOT Chairman said he hopes that during 2012, the centre will become fully operational while TADB starts operations and the tax regime reviewed to become private investment friendly. The sector apparently pays 17 different taxes.
This year we also witnessed some parts of the country witness bumper crop harvest and drought in other areas; export ban on cereals and unbanning towards end of the year; COP17 Durban with rallying cry ''No Agriculture No Deal''; SAGCOT became operational and moves towards formation of the Commodity Exchange," Shamted summed up some of the 2011 key happenings.
United Nations Conference of Parties (COP 17) was a climate change summit that drew together stakeholders from almost all the over 150 members of the world body who discussed ways of addressing global warming.
Reviewing the ending year's major developments that affected the agriculture sector, Mr Kostor who is also Kilihortex Limited Managing Director, said nuisance taxes including value added tax on air freight which was introduced during the year, are a major setback.
"As one of the exporters concerned, I would also like to mention the nuissance taxes that we are paying. Basically I believe that we should pay tax to TRA and then be done. A source of concern is the refund of VAT which is not done or very delayed," Kostor pointed out.
Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) introduced VAT of air freight in 2010 attracting protests from TAHA members whose exports heavily rely on air lifting to Europe and North American markets.
Kostor also mentioned other taxes affecting the agriculture sector and which need to be reviewed as 48 per cent duty charged on packing material used for exports, service levy, rent and cess charged on farms and agro-produce.
The Kilihortex MD also pointed out the numerous regulatory bodies endorsing agro-produce and which charge fees as radiation certificate by Tanzania Radiation Commission, standard certification by Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS), road sticker by Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority, fire certificate by Occupational and Safety Health Agency, among many others.
"Perhaps these remarks can help to paint the wider picture. Why is it that Tanzania has hardly seen any horticultural investment in the past years, while Kenya is the leading exporter of our products into the EU?" Kostor summed up his frustration.
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