Zanzibar — ZANZIBAR will soon close its vehicle trading centre after years of under performing and failure to withstand increased competition.
"The government decided last year to close the Zanzibar Motor Trade Corporation because it is not beneficial. The corporation was responsible for importing and selling vehicles, but now the business has been dominated by the private sector," the deputy minister for trade and marketing, Ms Thuwaiba Kissassi, informed the House.
Kissassi was responding to legislators: Mr Omar Ali Shehe (CUF-Chakechake) and Mr Nassor Salim Ali (CCM-Rahaleo), who wanted to know the government's efforts in reviving the corporation. She said that the government was now working on laying-off 33 workers and more than one billion shillings may be required to pay them.
Kissassi said the corporation has assets, including buildings worth more than 8bn/- in Unguja and Pemba islands, before asking the legislators to be patient. Meanwhile, the People's Bank of Zanzibar (PBZ) customers in South Unguja will by April, this year, have access to Automated Teller Machine (ATM) to be placed at Zanzibar University in Tunguu.
The Minister of State (Finance, Economy and Development Planning), Mr Omar Yussuf, said PBZ was finalising preparations to have the ATM in the area. Zanzibar government owns the bank. His statement was in response to Mr Mussa Ali Hassan (CCM-Koani), who demanded that PBZ moves closer to its customers by opening a branch in South Unguja District.
Legislators push for scrapping of VAT on building materials
SOME legislators in the Zanzibar House tried to push the government to lift Value Added Tax (VAT) on building materials to improve affordability.
Mr Jaku Hashim Ayoub (CCM-Muyuni), Mr Saleh Nasso Juma (CUF-Wawi) and Mr Hija Hassan Hija (CUFKiwani), argued that by scrapping VAT and other taxes on building materials such as cement, many poor people will afford to construct houses.
The legislators also asked why the government has been reluctant to allow a firm from abroad to invest in cement manufacturing.
Responding to the concerns, the Minister of State (finance, economy and development planning), Mr Omar Yusuf Mzee, said it was unworkable to abandon VAT and other taxes because the government relies on revenue for its activities.
"We cannot acquire medicines; provide water and other social services to people without money. Taxes are our main source of funds. So, we cannot scrap VAT," said Mzee.
He also said that the government was studying whether the establishment of a cement factory in Zanzibar was feasible or not, "including making a thorough environmental impact assessment before allowing the project.
Isles establish fire, rescue stations
ZANZIBAR government has started to implement plans of establishing fire and rescue stations in all districts, the minister responsible for local administration, Dr Mwinyihaji Haji Makame, has said.
"We have started to implement the plans and construction is in progress, alongside purchasing of equipment such as vehicles. This is in accordance with CCM manifesto and President Ali Mohamed Shein's promises during election campaigns," said Makame.