In Dodoma today, the Minister of Finance, Dr. Mwigulu Nchemba, has expressed a firm stance on tax collection by the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), stating that tax evaders are just like any other thieves.

This statement was made during the response to parliamentary debates on the estimates of revenue and expenditure for the Ministry of Industry and Trade, which were presented to Parliament by Dr. Ashatu Kijaji, who requested the approval of 110.8 billion Tanzanian shillings for the financial year 2024/2025.

Out of these funds, 81.1 billion shillings are allocated for recurrent expenditure, while 29.9 billion shillings are for development expenditure. The Parliament has approved these funds.

Several Members of Parliament, including Dr. Charles Kimei from Vunjo, raised concerns about tax complaints, alleging that the TRA violated President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s directive to limit the three-year assessment of commercial company accounts.

They claimed that some local investors are still facing challenges of having their accounts audited by TRA for previous years despite President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s directive.

Dr. Mwigulu clarified the categories of taxpayers, including employees whose taxes are deducted from their salaries, and their payment does not have complaints like large-scale businessmen and the group of tax collectors registered under the Value Added Tax (VAT).

“The group of major taxpayers and the group of tax collectors acting on behalf of the government registered for VAT, the tax is not theirs, they are not the ones paying, they serve as tax collectors for the government.

“Now, it happens that someone who has collected government taxes is required to submit it, not the one who paid it, he has collected taxes from other taxpayers.

“He has collected it as a tax collector on behalf of the government…It happens that after the third year, he has not submitted it, he has used taxes paid by other taxpayers.

“He took it, walks around, appears to be rich, but he took the tax paid by other taxpayers, people like this, no matter how many years pass, are thieves like any other thief.

“And as the Minister of Finance, these people must pay taxes so that poor children can go to school, we do not leave them because years have passed.

“A person who collects government taxes is required to submit that tax to the government, this does not have a month, it does not have a year, he is required to submit the tax to the government. Even when the President was in Kagera, he was talking about these small taxpayers who do not even know how to keep records,” said Mwigulu.

Mwigulu emphasized that the law states that anyone who collects government taxes is required to deliver it to the government.

Minister of Agriculture, Hussein Bashe, stated that his ministry has been collaborating with the Ministry of Industry and Trade to establish small industries for entrepreneurs.

He also said that the issue of tea factories closing in the country is a global challenge, and the government is taking steps where out of the 24 factories in the country, seven factories have closed.

“Out of these seven factories, three belong to Mohammed Enterprises (Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania Limited (METL)), two belong to DL Group, and one is being opened,” he said.

He also stated that it is not right to believe that small-scale farmers cannot run industries and that there is a farmer who owns a tea factory, and the government continues to support him to have a large factory.

On her part, the Minister of Industry and Trade, Dr. Ashatu Kijaji, said that her ministry has continued to collaborate with traders, and regarding the TRA, whenever they go to demand taxes, they call her, even if it is at Kariakoo market.

She said that in the next financial year, her ministry is determined to have an industrial area in every district to help small entrepreneurs.