THE government has plans to increase the annual contribution fisheries makes to 200bn/-, up from a mere 10bn/- and is asking for support from MPs to help achieve that goal.
The deputy minister for Livestock and Fisheries, Abdallah Ulega, told Parliament yesterday that the ministry had since started taking measures, including putting in place measures to avoid tax diversions. He cited one of the scenarios within the Lake zone, where fish dealers once used to divert export royalty fees to neighbouring countries. Mr Ulega informed the House that his ministry had now brought the situation under control, ensuring that all revenues from fish exports were duly taxed.
He gave these clarifications following charges by Kigoma Urban lawmaker Zitto Kabwe (ACT-Wazalendo) that fishermen within the Lake zone were being forced to pay ‘export royalty’ even when transporting their fish to other regions within the country.
“I wonder why they should pay ‘export royalty’ when all they’re doing is sell the fish within the country … this holds them back … from selling their fish (catches) to other regions,” he said, in a supplementary question. In a quick retort, Mr Ulega dismissed the charges, saying such fishermen were (being) ‘dishonest’ because they would say they’re selling the fish within the country when (in fact) they were ‘exporting’ it in a bid to evade ‘royalty’ fees.
In another development, Nyamagana MP, Stanslaus Mabula (CCM), accused the police and authorities in Mwanza of harassing the fishermen under the guise of campaigns to curb illegal fishing within Lake Victoria.
Mr Mabula stated that the fishermen were arbitrarily being harassed, their boats and fishnets seized and often arrested on (lame) accusations of illegal fishing. “My question is … why shouldn’t the government find a way of conducting this exercise without hurting (harassing) the fishermen,” he queried.
He was immediately backed by Mr Flatei Massay (Mbulu Rural – CCM), who blamed the police for arresting the fishermen and detaining them for over 24 hours – without charge – as the law requires.
“The government should intervene in this ongoing abuse within the Lake zone,” he appealed. Responding, Home Affairs Minister Hamad Masauni explained that one of the major duties of the police was to protect justice for every citizen and that there were circumstances that allowed police to detain suspects beyond 24 hours