Ms Saada Mkuya Salum
Finance Minister Saada Mkuya Salum told the ?Daily News? that she has no mandate to change the 2015 Finance Act as passed by Parliament, but can relax the payment procedure to allow them get their buses.
?We have discussed the matter with them and there is nothing much that I can do as Finance Minister because this is a law enacted by Parliament,? Ms Salum said.
She noted that in her meetings with Tanzania Bus Owners Association (TABOA) top leadership, they had agreed in principle that the 25 per cent import duty is irreversible, but can simply be paid in instalments.
?Let them pay 10 per cent and get their buses out and then pay in three instalments of five per cent each to finish the import duty as per requirements of the law,? she stressed.
Ms Salum?s explanation comes as TABOA members complain of delays to clear their buses from the port because of hiked import duty.
The government gave bus owners a yearlong import duty reduction period when all brand new buses paid 10 per cent duty. The duty reduction period ended on June 30, this year.
?This is our government and we know that it?s a listening government, let them allow us collect our buses because they will serve the public well,? said TABOA Secretary General, Mr Enea Mrutu.
Mr Mrutu said most of their members ordered the buses between three to four months ago, but manufacturing delays at factories and shipping liners meant that they arrived in the current financial year.
?We told the minister during our meetings that our members cannot afford to service bank loans and TRA tax backlogs for the next five months,? Mr Mrutu argued calling on the government to accommodate them.
?Our members have already got a big bill to settle because of delays in clearing these buses, we therefore request authorities to consider our circumstances,? he argued.
A brand new Yutong buses cost between 30,000 to 45,000 US dollars (about 60m/- and 90m/-) for capacity of between 41 and 56 passengers. With a 25 per cent duty, the buses will cost between 37,500 and 56,250 US dollars each.
By FINNIGAN WA SIMBEYE, Tanzania Daily News