The Citizen (Tanzania)
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Dodoma. Industry, Trade and Investment minister Charles Mwijage yesterday admitted that the current legal framework does not give window for the government to be flexible in tapping into investment projects.

According to Mr Mwijage, the government has already started harmonising all laws and policies currently impeding the business environment in the country.

He said he has already established an Ease of Doing Business desk at his office charged with the task of collecting views from the stakeholders.

The minister said this before the Parliamentary Committee for Industry, Trade and Environment which had organized a consultative meeting between the government and key players from the private sector to discuss the challenges facing industries, business and investment sectors in achieving the government’s goal of an industrial-based economy.

“My ministry has already collected stakeholders’ views and compiled a report which will be sent to ministers on Monday, especially those whose areas were found to be problematic,” he said adding, “from there, we’ll be in the best position to address the issues and prepare an effective policy and legal framework.”

In the open debate, stakeholders raised concerns before the committee that so far the government’s vision of an industrial-based economy would not be achieved if the current policies, laws and mind-set are not changed.

Solwa MP Ahmed Salum, who is also a local investor, told the committee that still the local business environment was not friendly.

“You go to the UAE or our southern neighbours, Mozambique, and you can complete the whole process of registering a business within 24 hours, just one office can issue all the required permits. In Tanzania, it is a long bureaucracy. We must address these issues,” he said.

Bakhresa Group of Companies corporate director Hussein Sufian said government officers must also change their mindset towards business investment in the country.

“Our company tried to open a cargo handling facility at the Dar es Salaam Port, but due to long processes we failed, surprisingly when we floated the same idea in Mozambique, it took them just a matter of few days to allow us in and we invested. We also ventured into the Zimbabwe market, where their laws don’t allow a 100 per cent foreign ownership of companies, but they were very flexible and allowed us to fully invest, why can’t we enjoy the same experience here,” argued Mr Sufian.

Committee members Julius Kalanga (Chadema-Monduli) and Dr Julius Chegeni (Busega-CCM) wanted the minister to give the governments’ commitment as to when the review process would end.

Reacting to that Mr Mwijage said that the government was moving with speed to address the matter, “Trust me, there is nothing that the stakeholders said here that I wasn’t aware of. Yes, we need to have a central authority which will issue all the permits in as short time as possible. Yes, Rwanda, Mozambique and Zimbabwe are flexible to play with their legal frameworks, if we do that here and now then we will be branded petty dictators.”

The chairman of the Committee and MP for Igunga, Dr Dalaly Kafumu (CCM) said the process of collecting views and consultation was ongoing and the committee would soon hold another consultative meeting with the ministries of Finance and Planning Energy and Minerals Lands Agriculture and Works, Transport and Communications to iron out issues falling in their dockets.

“We will submit our final report in Parliament in February, 2017, and until then we will continue with our fact finding mission. We have received a number of gems today. We are all having a common goal here, and that is building our industries and improve our business environment. Failure to that, the next five or 10 years will pass and we might not make any tangible improvements,” said Dr Kafumu.

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