15 March 2018

Tanzania: Don't Victimise Taxpayers - Magufuli

Dar es Salaam — President John Magufuli on Wednesday urged Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) to be fair and honest when dealing with taxpayers and other stakeholders.

Speaking before laying the foundation stone for the second phase of the standard gauge railway (SGR) linking Morogoro and Dodoma regions, Dr Magufuli said taxpayers should be able to pay taxes willingly without being coerced.

"For instance, I'm of the view that property tax should be a flat rate instead of being based on incomes because this will encourage more people to pay. I'm also aware that there are some crooked TRA employees who demand exorbitant sums in taxes from taxpayers...this is not acceptable," he said during the ceremony broadcast live from Ihumwa, Dodoma.

President Magufuli said TRA employees should embrace professionalism and honesty when collecting revenue on the government's behalf, saying this would encourage more people to pay tax instead of seeking shortcuts or avoiding to pay altogether.

"I also urge Tanzanians to pay taxes as required to enable the government to implement various development projects for the benefit of the whole nation."

The second phase of the SGR project will cover 426 kilometres between Morogoro Municipality and Makutupora in Dodoma Region. The first phase entails the construction of a 202-kilometre line between Dar es Salaam and Morogoro.

Work in the first two phases will be undertaken by Turkish firm Yapi Merkezi Insaat VE Sanayi as part of the government's plan to link Dar es Salaam and Mwanza with an SGR in an ambitious project estimated to cost Sh15 trillion. The railway will replace the existing narrow gauge Central Line built over a century ago.

The project will create over 30, 000 and 600,000 direct and indirect jobs, respectively, President Magufuli said.

He directed the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications to work closely with the contractor to ensure that the project was completed as scheduled, adding that the new railway would ease transportation of goods in addition to protecting roads.

"The completion of the project will ease transportation of heavy cargo, which is currently being moved by trucks, leading to damage to our roads," he said. Dr Magufuli added that advance payment of more than Sh500 billion (Sh1.1 trillion) had been issued to the contractor to implement part of the project.

Earlier, the Minister of Works, Transport and Communications, Prof Makame Mbarawa, said the government had also compensated deserving residents who had so far been moved to pave the way for the project.

The Turkish ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Ali Davutoglu, assured President Magufuli of the Turkish government's commitment to continued cooperation with Tanzania in implementing various development projects.

He said the SGR project would upon its completion facilitate regional trade and act as a catalyst to Tanzania's efforts to transform itself into a middle-income economy by 2025.

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