THREAT of factories' closure has been averted, thanks to the government resolve to okay clearance of consignments of industrial sugar at the Dar es Salaam Port.
However, the government has given conditions to soft and carbonated drink manufacturers to ensure that they only clear consignments of industrial sugar according to their respective production demands.
According to the Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Industry, Trade and Environment, Mr Sadick Murad, the agreement was reached after a lengthy discussion which involved several ministers.
They included the Chief Whip who is also the Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, Policy, Parliamentary Affairs, Labour, Employment, Youth and the Disabled, Ms Jenister Mhagama, Minister for Industry, Trade and Investments, Charles Mwijage and Minister for Finance and Planning, Dr Phillip Mpango.
Mr Murad said it was discovered by his committee that most of the manufacturers who were facing possible suspension of production due to failure to get permit to clear the stalled sugar imports, had not applied for requisite verification from the government, on the amount of industrial sugar they validly required to import in accordance with their production capacity.
He said only nine manufacturers have so far been assessed by the government on the quantity of industrial sugar they have to import, after submitting their respective specifications to the government. "Apparently, out of the five soft drink producers who were likely to stop production this week, only Coca Cola Kwanza is among nine manufacturers who have been assessed by the government so far," he said.
On the case of Coca Cola Kwanza, Mr Murad said, the firm had initially presented its demand of imported raw material according to production capacity, but later claimed to have undergone expansion process and that the amount imported was not enough.
Mr Murad, who is Mvomero legislator (CCM), said the remaining producers will be given permits to clear the industrial sugar imports, but their production demands will strictly be monitored to see whether it tallies with the quantity of consignment they had ordered. On Tuesday, the committee asked the government to fast track clearance of stalled industrial sugar at the Dar es SalaamPort to avert a looming crisis of shutting down factories.
This followed concerns contained in the Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) report, which was tabled before the committee. Heated debate emerged after CTI Chairman, Dr Samwel Nyantahe, raised a red flag on the critical shortage of industrial sugar in the market due to manufacturers' failure to get permits to clear consignments of refined industrial sugar.
It was said that the stock of industrial sugar - the key raw material used in the production in some of the firms can only last for a week. Mr Murad said so far one carbonated drink manufacturer - Sayona Dar es Salaam has already ceased production, while several others, including Coca Cola Kwanza, Iringa Food and Beverage and Anjari of Tanga Region have raised alarm over possible suspension of production should they fail to obtain permit to clear the stalled sugar imports.
President John Magufuli restricted issuance of the sugar imports permits, demanding that only validly imported sugar get clearance. The Head of State ordered that sugar import permits be issued by his office and that of the Prime Minister. He said the measures are meant to protect local manufacturers and consumers from adverse effects of cheap smuggled sugar being dumped in the market.
However, CTI has raised concern that some senior civil servants and the responsible ministries were dragging feet and failing to take their responsibilities in clearing validly imported stocks.