Dodoma — In a move aimed at ending the sugar deficit in the country and stabilising the commodity's price, the government has lifted the ban on its importation, which had existed over the last two years.
The move also will address the current scarcity of the commodity to control a possible price spiral at a time when Muslims are expecting to start marking the holy month of Ramadhan. This was announced yesterday at Parliament by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, who said the government was already issuing import permits to cover up the deficit.
Tanzania's sugar demand stands at 450,000 tonnes per year, with local production estimated at only 320,000 tonnes amid measures to increase local production.
The Prime Minister was responding to a question raised by nominated MP Abdallah Bulembo who wanted to know what the government was doing to intervene in the commodity price spiral, ahead of the holy month of Ramadhan.
Bulembo said the price of sugar has been increased by nearly 15 per cent to a maximum of Sh3,200 per kilogram from the previous Sh2,800 in just a short period of time.
"It would be better if the government issues a statement on the matter as we are heading towards the fasting season for Muslims worldwide," urged Mr Bulembo.
Responding to the MP, Prime Minister Majaliwa said; "We have issued import permits to cover the deficit of sugar and some have started to import the commodity. This move will help to control prices of locally-manufactured sugar while increasing its supply."
He further said; "Right now the ministry of Agriculture through the Sugar Board of Tanzania (SBT) are working closely to ensure the importation is done in a proper manner. So, I would like to assure Tanzanians that there will be no scarcity of sugar," he added.
He instructed all regional and district commissioners to make a follow-up to ensure there was no price spiral of sugar in their areas of jurisdiction. He said the lifting of the imports ban was aimed at ensuring accessibility of the commodity across the country given that there will be a high demand of sugar in the near future. "The government is determined to make sure that we address this challenge," he told the National Assembly.
President John Magufuli banned sugar imports in February 2016 to protect local producers.
The President said the decision to ban the importation of sugar was based on grounds that some few government officials had been abusing their powers by issuing orders on importation of sugar for their own selfish interests.
In November, last year, President Magufuli asked owners of sugar factories to look for possible measures that would provide a final solution to the sugar deficit in the country.