Tanzania: Duty exemption ceded on imported buses

The government has increased import duty on buses, reverting back to the original duty after the one-year East African Community (EAC) duty exemption expired on June 30, 2015.

The Minister for Finance, Ms Saada Mkuya Salum, explained that the EAC had last year allowed a 15 per cent exemption on imported buses.

However Tanzanian importers were allowed to pay only 10 per cent.

The exemption period of one year ended on June 30, prompting the government to revert back to the original import duty on July 1, 2015.

“Bus owners want the import duty on buses to go down but the government has reverted back to the old import duty because the one-year EAC exemption, in which they enjoyed lower import duty, is over,” Ms Salum explained.

At their Annual General meeting on Wednesday, the Tanzania Bus Owners’ Association (TABOA) said they have formed a five-man task force to lobby for lower import duty for buses from 25 to 10 per cent, failure of which the bus owners threatened to go on strike.

The announcement was made by TABOA Secretary General, Mr Enea Mrutu, in Dar es Salaam where he said the task-force was to meet with the Minister of Finance yesterday to deliberate on the matter.

Although the EAC had allowed the one-year exemption, allowing bus owners to import buses at a lower import duty, surprisingly the bus fares remained the same during that period.

“But then we should all ask ourselves how did the public benefit from the EAC exemption on import duty... did the bus fares go down during that period?

Or is it just the owners who benefited from this?” wondered the minister. At the general meeting, Mr Mrutu wanted the government to reduce import tax, which he said has been increased without consulting them and other stakeholders.

He said following the implementation of budget recommendations at the start of this month, the cost of importing buses has doubled and, as a result, many bus owners who had imported buses are failing to clear them from the port.

“The 25 per cent increase is too high for us… there are more than 30 buses abandoned at the Dar es Salaam Port due to the increased cost”, he claimed further.

According to him, the government’s decision to raise import tax was unfair because other bus owners were still enjoying the previous low rates, including the Dar es Salaam Transport Company, UDA, and Dar es Salaam Rapid Transport (DART).

Meanwhile, the Drivers’ Association of Tanzania, UWAMATA, Secretary General, Abdalla Lubala, said they had written to the Permanent Committee appointed by the Prime Minister to oversee road transport issues asking for a meeting to sort out the remaining challenges facing the drivers.

He said initially, the committee had declined to meet until the association was fully registered, noting that they were still awaiting a response from the committee.

“The committee, appointed by Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda, said they only meet with registered workers’ associations.

We have registered and written to the chairperson of the committee, to discuss the remaining challenges. We are still waiting for their response,” he explained.

He said issues that have been sorted out include Public Notice No 31 directing drivers holding Driving Licence Class E, C3, C2, C1 and C to attend a refresher course at a recognised institution and be re-tested before being given licence.

Mr Lubala said the remaining issues are working contracts which were supposed to be in place by the beginning of 1st July 2015, acceptable allowances and announcement of the minimum wage for upcountry bus drivers.
Source: Daily News, reported by Rose Athumani, from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
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