PRESIDENT John Magufuli yesterday said that the government has confidence in the private sector except for a few dishonest businessmen, who are involved in corruption and tax evasion.
Speaking at the 10th National Business Council meeting in Dar es Salaam, Dr Magufuli said massive crackdown on corruption and tax evasion by big businesses should not be construed as lack of trust in the private sector by the government.
“I know that the government that I am leading trusts the private sector except, perhaps, for a few tax cheats…” he said during the meeting that involved members of the business community and government leaders.
President Magufuli’s response followed remarks put earlier by the Chairman of the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF), Reginald Mengi, that there seems to be lack of trust between the government and the private sector, based on a misconception by some government leaders that all the businesspeople are bent on breaking the law and evade paying tax.
“This is not true. The truth is that there a few among us who have the bad habit of evading tax and breaking the law.
But, most of us respect the values and laws and we pay the required taxes,” Mr Mengi said, adding that it was important to debunk the wrong notion as soon as possible, to build a strong private sector.
Dr Magufuli said the government understands that there were a few dishonest traders who are involved in shoddy deals and corruption.
He said the on-going crackdown on corruption and sleaze in the government was important for the private sector because it levelled the playing field among traders in various sectors.
“A few traders were evading tax and were colluding with some figures in the government and in the TRA .These became very powerful and were frustrating businesses. So, if these are the people complaining about lack of trust from the government, yes, they are right,” he said.
“But, majority is trustful. I want to assure you that the government will cooperate with you 100 per cent.” He decried the growing tendency by some people who acquire big chunks of land for investment in large scale agriculture, but were using them as collateral to obtain loans which are used for non-agricultural purposes.
He said that the government cannot let that tendency continue, it is not in the best interest of the nation.
However, President Magufuli accused some of the people in the private sector of mediocrity and failing to take up chances when given preferential treatment by the government.
“Some of you complain too much. You were advised to form joint ventures, to be able to take up big contractual works, but that has become difficult.
You can be given preferential treatment, but for how long?” he queried. He accused them of lack of seriousness and gave an example of the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) hostels that were recently constructed by Tanzania Building Agency (TBA) for 10bn/- and said some local contractors had quoted as much as 150bn/- for the work.
“You are given opportunities, but you never use them,” he said. He added that the government had its problems which it was working to address, but members of the business community had plenty of problems too and gave an example that some traders were hoarding sugar towards the Holy Month of Ramadhani to create shortage of the item for their interest.
“Let’s admit; the government has its problems but you also have problems, because if that is not the case why are some of you hoarding sugar, when we are approaching (the Holy month of) Ramadhani, for instance,” he asked.
He said that the government had issued sugar import permits to sugar producers with the hope that they will be genuine in importing the item, but that did not work as they eventually sold the permits to blacklisted sugar importers.
Dr Magufuli directed the government to work on the issues identified by the private sector and those which will not require change of laws be adopted immediately.
©Alleastafrica and Daily News