Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Ilala RPC Vows to Pursue Tax-Evading Container Saga

ILALA Regional Police Commander (RPC), Marietha Minangi, has promised to follow up claims that Bugurini police officers have denied Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) access to a container belonging to Gongo la Mboto Baptist Church that is alleged to have evaded tax.

RPC Minangi told the 'Daily News' on Sunday that her office has not received the TRA letter but conceded that she knows the case. "Who did they (TRA) write to? I have not received the letter," RPC Minangi noted.

She promised to follow up the issue and give a statement this week. Buguruni police officers detained a container full of used electronic products, home appliances and clothes donated by Australian African Aid through Rotary Club of Perth, while being offloaded at Gongo la mboto Baptist church at the end of last year.

The container which had a value of 1,271.50 US dollars (over 2.04m/-) and paid a paltry 1.9m/- in import duty, had 275 pieces of various used items including 68 desktop computers, 22 photocopy machines, 28 refrigerators, 23 colour printer machines, 15 television sets, 15 radio sets and speakers, 14 microwaves, 13 video decks and nine laptops.

TRA Commissioner for Domestic Revenue, Patrick Kissaka said recently that efforts to get the suspect container from the police have so far not succeeded. "We wrote them officially but so far they have not given us the container for re-examination," Mr Kissaka said.

He added that the authority wanted to re-examine contents of the container after reports said it was grossly undervalued. "Until recently, the container was at Buguruni Police Station but now I am told it's no longer there," he noted, saying police said they also had issues to settle with the container.

Kissaka, however, noted that most of the contents in the container were computers and accessories which are tax exempted. Tax exemption to charity and not for profit organisations cost the country up to 4.3 per cent of gross domestic product.

Last April, while presenting the government's budget to Parliament, Finance Minister, Dr William Mgimwa promised to reign in tax evasion and exemptions.

The 'Daily News' investigations established that the container belonging to the Baptist Church had most of its contents grossly undervalued. Documentary evidence shows that the 68 desktop computers were valued at 408 US dollars, thus six US dollars each or about 9,600/-.

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