. . . Defends national debt saying it’s still on recommended standards
PRESIDENT John Magufuli has asked owners of sugar factories to look for possible measures that will find the final solution for sugar deficit in the country so that he can ban importation of the popular sweetener once and for all.
In the same vein, Dr Magufuli directed the Minister of Agriculture Dr Charles Tizeba and his Trade, Industries and Investment counterpart, Charles Mwijage to, within three days, remove and reassign all staff who are currently issuing sugar import permits.
According to Dr Magufuli, there were unscrupulous employees who have for many years been issuing sugar importation permits to business people who do not qualify to be given the permits. “I am giving you three days to transfer these people and if possible let them be assigned to give permits for dog vaccines, instead,’’ he stressed.
He was speaking in Misenyi District, Kagera Region when he made a working visit to the prominent Kagera Sugar Limited (KSL) factory. During his speech that was beamed live by local radio and television stations, Dr Magufuli commended the Board Chairman, Mr Seif Ali Seif for revamping the factory that was almost paralysed in the previous years.
At the factory, President Magufuli said currently Tanzania needs 450,000 tonnes of sugar per year, while the factories available in the country have a capacity to produce only 320,000 tonnes. This means, there is a deficit of 130,000 tonnes each year.
In his quest to protect local industries and encourage more investors in his industrialisation agenda, Dr Magufuli asked sugar factory owners to put measures in place that would cover the deficit. He said for a long time, Tanzania was being considered as a dumping place for poor quality and expired sugar that was risking the health of people in the country.
To avoid repackaging of expired sugar by some business people, Dr Magufuli asked every sugar producing factory to put targets that would see that the deficit of 130,000 tonnes of sugar that forces the Prime Minister’s Office to allow sugar importation is covered.
He said if owners of sugar factories will assure him of increasing their production to cover the current deficit, he was ready to ban any importation of sugar into Tanzania.
In an event that the factories will not be able to produce enough sugar to cover the deficit, the President said he was ready to allow only sugar factory owners to import sugar into the country and shun unscrupulous business people who were importing substandard sugar.
At KSL, the President was flanked by Dr Tizeba, Mr Mwijage and the Minister for Energy, Dr Medard Kalemani as well as several Permanent Secretaries, among others. He thanked Mr Seif for his big investment saying he was a typical example of the investors that he wants.
According to Mr Seif, his factory had employed over 500 staff and commended Dr Magufuli for his exemplary leadership especially in transforming the country into an industrial economy.
On industrial sugar, the Head of State tasked the two ministers to make assessment of all importers of industrial sugar to make sure that they only import an amount of sugar that cater for industrial activities, so as to avoid repackaging of industrial sugar for human consumption.
He directed that owners of industries who will import more industrial sugar than the demand of their factories risk facing the wrath of the law.
Dr Magufuli further directed the Ministry of Finance to keep hands on the African Development Bank (AfDB) bank’s 242bn/- loan it provided to Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB) for development of Agriculture, so that the loans acquired from TADB are only used for agricultural projects.
The President further took time to defend the country’s national debt, taking a swipe at a section of people who have been insisting that the country’s borrowing trend was heading to danger zone.
“Until now, we have only borrowed 32.5 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) while even if we borrow up to 56 per cent of the GDP we are still on the recommended standards,’’ he explained.