Dodoma — THE government stands to lose a whopping 153.9bn/- from a number of court cases that taxpayers have filed in court against Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA).
Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman Zitto Kabwe said in Parliament last Saturday that in one case, an oil importing company, TIOT Limited is disputing over 7.8bn/- tax bill, which if lost, the government stands lose the money.
Mr Kabwe said the case, which has dragged on since the 2001/2 season, is affecting TRA's tax collecting efficiency, adding that the authority had sought assistance from the Attorney General' Office and Treasury, but nothing was done to help speed up the case.
"If the government is committed to stop such revenue losses, then it should, through the AG's Office, work with integrity and steadfastness to defend itself and win such pending court cases," Mr Zitto, who is also Kigoma North (Chadema) MP commented.
The lawmaker argued that despite the good performance in revenue collection, which witnessed the surpassing of the target for the 2011/12 season, there were still many loopholes and cheating by some taxpayers.
He gave an example of the suspension of use of flow meters for fuel import duty collection at Dar es Salaam Port after the Weights and Measures Agency accepted complaints that the meters were faulty, imposing huge tax bills on oil imports.
"The Controller and Auditor General's (CAG) report for 2010/11 inquired reasons behind the suspension of the flow meters at Dar es Salaam and Tanga ports, which is causing losses to the government," Mr Kabwe argued.
The flow meters, which are property of Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA), were installed at the Kurasini Oil Jetty in 2004 and started working in 2005 until 2011 when WMA ordered TPA to stop using them because importers were complaining of being overcharged import duty.
Currently, TPA is using deep-sticks to determine the volume of oil in a tanker. "The Committee has ordered TPA to give us a report on showing the difference when volume of oil is measured by deep-stick and the flow meters," Mr Kabwe noted.
Debating the report alongside that of Local Authorities Accounts Committee and Budget Committee, MPs took a swipe at non-performing cabinet ministers, most of who were not in the house last Saturday.
Lindi Urban lawmaker Salum Baruany (CUF) denounced a culture of patronage in the government whereby "thieving senior public officials are simply transferred from one district to another."
"The government can stop these thieving district council officials and TAMISEMI," argued Mr Baruany, who accused the Office of the Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office responsible for Local Authorities and Regional Administration of encouraging the culture of embezzlement of public funds.
Tandahimba legislator Juma Njwayo (CCM) said loss of billions every year being done by district councils is the reason behind government's failure to pay teachers their arrears, hence causing friction with the group, which represents the largest number of civil servants in government.
"We need thorough vetting of these public officials during recruitment to ensure that we get clean people," Mr Njwayo suggested. Parliament will continue debating the reports tomorrow.