DAR ES SALAAM, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Tuesday sought answers from top government officials and private sector players on why Tanzania was yet to see the real benefits of its vast mineral wealth.
President Magufuli chaired a one-day meeting that was aimed at seeking answers from top government officials and private sector players in the country's mining industry..
"I've come here today to listen to views and challenges of mining stakeholders," Magufuli said to cheers from artisanal miners from across the east African nation at the conference held in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam.
"I want to hear from you - mining stakeholders - and I want you to speak openly," he added.
After listening to presentations from representatives of the Federation of Miners Association of Tanzania and the Tanzania Bankers' Association, the president took charge of the meeting.
The president convened the meeting after Tanzania had passed a string of laws and regulations in 2017, which ushered in sweeping changes to the country's mining code as the government sought a bigger share of revenues from the sector.
Magufuli has publicly accused large-scale mining companies of not paying their fair share of taxes and has urged the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) to crack down on tax evasion in the sector.
In his quest for tighter regulation of the sector, the president has appointed three mining ministers in three years and has made it clear that he will not hesitate to make further cabinet changes in future in the portfolio until he was satisfied with the management of the country's natural resources.
The president noted that a recent World Bank report showed that Tanzania was not the leading exporter of minerals even among East African countries, despite the country's vast mineral wealth.
"You heard the recent incident where gold was being smuggled from Tanzania under police escort. Why are our police officers escorting smuggled minerals," Magufuli queried.
President Magufuli said he was still not satisfied by tax collection from the mining sector and said he expected answers from the TRA Commissioner General, Charles Kichere, who was also present.
"These mining commissioners located at different parts of the country are experts in geology. Why are minerals being smuggled from their areas under their watch while they haven't even missed a single month's salary?" inquired the president.
Tanzania, which is one of Africa's biggest gold producer, boasts reserves of some 260 minerals.
"The mining sector currently contributes only 4.5 percent of the country's GDP. We want the contribution of the sector to reach 10 percent or above so that the sovereignty of Tanzanians can be reflected in the mining sector," he said.