DAR ES SALAAM, May 15 (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Tuesday directed relevant authorities to amend taxes on imported crude edible oil with a view to imposing heavy taxes on the commodity.
The president made the directive when he made an impromptu visit to the Dar es Salaam port where the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) has detained 90,000 tonnes of imported edible oil over unresolved tax issues.
Magufuli directed the Minister for Trade, Industries and Investment, Charles Mwijage, to table a schedule of amendment of the taxes in the ongoing parliamentary budget sessions in the capital Dodoma with a view to imposing higher taxes on imported crude cooking oil.
The president made the directive after a committee which was formed to investigate the 90,000 tonnes of consignment of edible oil revealed that some importers of the consignment had lied to TRA that the shipment contained crude edible oil while in fact the cargo contained refined and semi-refined edible oil.
In addition, President Magufuli ordered that the shipment should be cleared and the edible oil be released to the market.
However, Magufuli said businessmen who have imported refined cooking oil should pay 25 percent tax and fine for their cargo to be released.
Last week, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Job Ndugai, directed government institutions involved in the edible oil dispute to discuss measures to resolve the crisis which has caused a growing panic in the domestic market.
For the past two weeks there has been uneasiness in the market as the country has been hit by a shortage of edible oil which suppliers blamed government institutions.
Two cooking oil tankers have been denied entry and remains at the Dar es Salaam port over failure by the customs officers to charge import tax for two weeks now.
The current annual demand for cooking oil in Tanzania is estimated at between 400,000 tons and 570,000 tons, while domestic production is only 210,000 tons, leaving a deficit of almost 360,000 tons which are covered by imports.
Tanzania spends around 80 million U.S. dollars to import assorted cooking oil brands from some Asian and neighboring countries.