Dar es Salaam — Minister of Industries, Trade and Investment Charles Mwijage yesterday defended the government against remarks made by Nigerian billionaire and one of Tanzania's biggest investors, Mr Aliko Dangote, that President John Magufuli's policies scared away investors.
He said the government's investment policies were transparent and did not aim at scaring away investors.
Mr Mwijage was reacting to an article published by Financial Times quoting Mr Dangote, a major investor in Tanzania, as saying the government has pursued policies that seek to "seize a majority share of assets."
"They have scared quite a lot of investors and scaring investors is not a good thing to do," Mr Dangote was quoted as saying, while speaking at the Financial Times Africa Summit in London yesterday.
He specifically mentioned a "backdoor plan" by the government to take up to 16 per cent of investor assets for free through what he described.
But Mr Mwijage clarified that free carried interests were a requirement for companies operating in the extractive industry that had existed in Tanzanian laws even before a recent review of laws.
Mr Mwijage said investors in the extractive industry were obliged to seize 16 per cent free carried interests to the government to ensure the country benefitted from natural resources.
"I really expect Mr Dangote as one of the major shareholders to be conversant with our laws. Once a company comes and invests in the extractive sector, government shares should not be less than 16 free carried interests. This is not wrong at all as the natural resources are ours," Mr Mwijage told The Citizen during an interview.
Even as he insisted the government would make sure all investors in the country abided by the country's laws, Mr Mwijage expressed disbelief that Mr Dangote would be the one to castigate the country's investment climate in a negative manner.
This is due to "special attention" in which the Nigerian investor receives from the Tanzania government.
"Dangote has not had any problems here. Whenever he encounters any difficulties the government rushes to his help. You remember, when he had issues last year we were all available to help his cement factory," Mr Mwijage noted.
In Financial Times, the article, Mr Dangote advised President Magufuli to "have a look at" his policies.