11 November 2013

Tanzania: Auctioning of Forest Products Worries Stakeholders

Rombo — OWNERS of forestry products and industries have objected to sale of logs through auctions. Speaking here over the weekend, Secretary General of Northern Forest Industries Association (Nofia) in Rombo district, Mr Justine Mushi said they are worried of the very existence of their industries.

Tanzania Forest Service (TFS) announced the move as part of its measures to implement Big Results Now (BRN) strategy and increase government revenues from forest products.

Mr Mushi warned that their industries, small as they are, would not be able to compete with giant companies and asked the government to maintain the current status quo. He was of a settled view that new regulations would benefit owners of big industries and as such, their small industries are doomed.

Mr Mushi also alleged that the new system was not in tandem with the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi's (CCM) 2010 election manifesto. The party, he said, got to the helm because of its promises that it would safeguard the marginalised, poor, youth and women, but if the new regulations are enforced a lot of people in the said groups will lose their jobs and livelihoods.

"This regulation is going to have a lot of side effects to many people as small industries in our district will close down. "As a result job losses will be massive, youths will go back to the streets and it is very likely that we will see an increase in crime in the villages," he warned.

Speaking at Mkuu on Sunday, Mr Richard Mkenda and Mr Alphonce Mali said they were sad that parliament session was over, otherwise they would ask their member of parliament to table a private motion on the matter immediately.

However, there are some standing orders and procedures that need time for a member of parliament to prepare, hand over their private motion and consequently table them in the house. The young men said they were worried of losing their only hope of survival as they work in timber workshops. "The new system is going to leave the rich in this business, this is going to be a cruel twist of fate.

We can only ask the government to rescind this," said Mr Mkenda. People in the village also expressed fear that once the new system starts they will be dealt with a blow, as they depend on their children whose main source of income is from the said workshops.

Nofia members have, for a start, set up a nursery with 45,000 trees at an open area in Rombo District Council, as a long term measure, should the situation move from bad to worse.

The logic behind for TFS to prefer auction is that it is easily managed with little operational costs, transparent and open to everybody. TFS as an executive agency has the mandate for the management of national forest reserves on general lands.

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