THE Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr Philip Mpango, has suspended four employees with the customs unit, at Tunduma Border Post pending investigations of their alleged involvement in the disappearance of 10 seals used in the shipment of cargo abroad.
The Minister named the officials as Harrison Mwampashi, John Makorere, Stephene Josia and Frank Kessy.
It is alleged that the officials stole the 10 seals from their employer, who is the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) in the region. Upon investigating the matter, four of the seals were found on loaded trucks that were later impounded at the border. Again, five other trucks were also held after it was discovered that their seals had been tampered with.
Dr Mpango arrived at the decision on Friday evening during his official visit here and directed security organs at the border to probe the matter while the officials are on suspension.
“Nothing is as important as observing integrity for an official working with TRA, for that matter. We will not hesitate to take action against anyone and the law has to take its course in protecting public funds,” stressed Dr Mpango.
Reports indicate that the seals were issued to truck owners by the suspects. And, it was further revealed that the capacity of cargo in the containers does not match with that indicated on the official documentation, an indicator that the seals were used to deceive on the exact quantity, for them to evade various tariffs and taxes.
The Minister observed that the government has discovered the trick whereby TRA officials collude with unscrupulous businesspersons to interfere with tax systems on the borders, something which is hampering the government’s efforts.
He warned the officials and urged them to become patriotic and reliable people in effective collection of government taxes in the country.
Meanwhile, Dr Mpango has issued a 30-day ultimatum to individuals or institutions engaging in arbitrary money changing business to immediately stop and instead form groups and establish proper shops in accordance to the laws of the country.
He issued the directive in the region when he met and spoke to the group of businessperson noting that the government will not interfere with those of who are operating under the right procedures.
The Minister also visited and inspected the construction of a one-stop Custom Centre on the Tanzania-Zambia border. Among other things, he visited the Customs Unit at the border and received a report of the total revenue collection of 75bn/- for the year 2016/2017.
The Customs Department Manager in Mbeya and Songwe Regions, Mr Jimmy Nsindo said that on top of the achievement, the Tanzania and Zambia border can easily be penetrated acting as a catalyst for illegal business causing loss to the government.
On the other hand, Dr Mpango gave 20 days to all petrol station owners who requested to be supplied with Electronic Fiscal Device (EFD) machines, which are connected to the gasoline pump to ensure that they fix the machines immediately, otherwise their businesses will be shut down.
He also directed shop owners in Mbeya to make use of the EFD machines to issue their customers with receipts by Wednesday and desist from waiting for the government to close their shops.