2 January 2013

Tanzania: Artistes in Quandary About TRA Stamp

MOST local artistes had words of praise for the formalisation of the music and film sections of the industry, which was officially launched on Tuesday.

However, there are certain aspects of its preparation and introduction that still disturbs them. The Executive Secretary of the Tanzania Film Federation (TAFF), Wilson Makubi, was no exception to this pattern. The introduction of a Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) stamp on all films and albums that are put on the market, he agrees has been somewhat well received.

The belief is if this is used properly, it would bring a number of benefits for those in the film sector, he maintains. "We have never had any statistics on sales within the sector. Now, through this TRA stamp system we will be able to know, which artistes have good sales.

We will also be able to know whose popularity has grown or dropped within a particular year. These will be legal statistics and not guesswork because the entire process will be within the auspices of TRA," Makubi told the 'Daily News'. Another reason he gave for being optimistic with the system is that he believes it will help reduce and maybe even stop theft of artistes' works by piracy both within and outside of the country.

Those people in the industry with the desire to cheat the artistes of their lawful right had a free hand before, simply because of not having a system to check the amount of copies of a film that was printed for sale. Now the artist will know exactly how many copies were made for sale, so will also be able to know how much money they should be getting from each batch that has been prepared for this purpose.

This was not the case before the intervention by TRA, with this stamp system, Makubi said. Now, in a situation where all stamped copies of a publication have been sold, the distributor has no other choice but to return to the TRA for another set of stamps for these extra copies.

This is one side of the argument, for according to the performing artist of Parapanda Theatre Trust, Amani Lukuli, there is another aspect to this stamp system that the general public has not realised. In conversation with the 'Daily News' yesterday, he acknowledged that this TRA stamp should help the government collect revenue that was before outside their reach.

However, Lukuli, added the system was introduced without proper prior educating of artistes to its benefits and workings where they are concerned. The details, which would help artistes to understand in what way they are going to benefit from this system, have not been made clear to them.

This becomes more important when one bears in mind the environment within which this TRA system has been introduced. "Right now there has been an on-going dispute between artistes in the film section and musicians on one side and the Copyright Society of Tanzania (COSOTA), who they see as not doing anything towards their benefit.

Presently, there is a vacuum between business persons, artistes and the government. It is as though there is a secret, which business persons know that the government has found out but have not explained it to the artistes. So how are the artistes going to benefit from this arrangement?" Lukuli asks.

Currently, he added there are a number of artistes, who are of the view that the only way they can get a fair deal is to sell their works through the Internet. This could have been avoided if only the government had worked more with the artistes before bringing into effect yesterday this new TRA stamp system.

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