17 January 2013

Tanzania: TMAA Marshals Joint Efforts Against Mineral Smuggling

THE Tanzania Minerals Audit Agency (TMAA) asked the government officials at the country's exit and entry points to acquaint themselves with the mining laws to maximally control the illegal business of minerals.

The rampant illegal exports of minerals through panya routes are reportedly subjecting the country to substantial loss of revenues through uncollected taxes.

The TMAA Director for Minerals Valuation and Laboratory Services, Engineer Dominic Rwekaza, said good understanding of the 2010 Mining Act and its regulations would enable officials manning the country borders to confidently identify and arrest culprits of the illegal mining business.

"It's high time we worked jointly with all stakeholders in the mining sector to save the nation from massive revenues loss," he said at the closure of a two-day seminar that brought together officials from TMAA, Customs, Police and Airport security. He said collaboration among various stakeholders would make easy the TMAA task of checking mineral smuggling and royalty evasion.

The TMAA Manager for Valuation, Mr George Kaseza, said the auditing carried by the agency is not limited to the period for which it was established but it goes back to the period the audit started operations. TMAA, in collaboration with the Tanzania Revenues Authority (TRA) customs officials for instance has discovered that the TanzaniteOne evaded paying royalty since 2004 to 2009 worth 1.5bn/-.

In the meantime, Mr Kaseza said the agency will in the near future establish a database to make available the mining licences and other export or import permits with the view of controlling forging of the certificates and easing the officials' task of tracing the origin of the mineral cargos.

Lack of modern equipment and manpower at various entry or exit points remain to be among the challenges facing TMAA. Mr Kaseza said swift measures were in the pipeline to address most of the challenges. He cited scanners used to detect minerals in luggage at the airports, saying some minerals are not detectable by the gadgets, the loophole that some dishonesty smugglers use to evade government taxes.

He said emerald or tanzanite gemstones are among the expensive metals in the world but could not be detected by the scanners. Speaking on the first day of the seminar, TMAA Managing Director, Engineer Paul Masanja said mineral smuggling among small and medium miners was rampant and a serious challenge that needs concerted efforts by all stakeholders to rescue the government from massive revenue loss.

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