Dar es Salaam — Licenced importers have been unable to sell 80,000 tonnes of sugar imported for domestic consumption between March and June this year due to the presence of smuggled sugar in the market.
The amount represents 61.5 per cent of the 130,000 tonnes of sugar imported legally by four major companies during the period.
Kagera Sugar Ltd, Kilombero Sugar, Mtibwa Sugar Estates Ltd and TPC Ltd said in Dar es Salaam yesterday that some unscrupulous traders were putting imported industrial sugar in the market and selling it for domestic consumption.
The companies alleged that some of the smugglers were selling illegally imported sugar as local brands.
"We have conducted our own survey and found sugar in sacks bearing logos of Tanzanian companies, indicating that the sugar was brought into the country and repackaged in bags of local brands to conceal it from the authorities," Tanzania Sugar Producers Association director Seif Seif said.
Mtibwa Sugar Estates operations and marketing director Fulgence Bube said it was difficult for their products to compete with smuggled sugar, which was sold at throw-away prices since it entered the country without the relevant taxes being paid.
"We can't compete. We still have 80,000 tonnes in stock, which we are unable to sell even before the new production season has begun," he said.
Mr Bube appealed to the government to help local sugar producers by conducting a thorough investigation and identifying the traders behind the racket.
Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) quality director Tumaini Mtitu told The Citizen that they were doing all in their power to control sugar that was unfit for domestic consumption from entering the market.
"We conduct regular market surveys. So far, we have not identified any threat as far as the safety of sugar being consumed locally is concerned," she said.
Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) spokesperson Gaudencia Simwanza shared similar views, saying sugar that entered the market was safe for consumption as long as the authority satisfied itself that it met the set safety and quality standards.
"I'm unaware of the presence of sugar that is unfit for consumption in the market. Sugar that comes in through the proper channels is only released into the market after meeting all the quality requirements," she told The Citizen.
Earlier during the sugar stakeholders' meeting, TPC Ltd sales and marketing executive officer Allen Maro commended the government's efforts in dealing with dishonest traders. He asked the government to intensify its crackdown on sugar racketeers.
"This is economic sabotage as the brands of Tanzanian companies are being used illegally for the benefit of a few unscrupulous businessmen," he said.
Mr Maro added that there were enough stocks of sugar and the public should cooperate with the relevant authorities by reporting dishonest traders dealing in the commodity.
Kilombero Sugar Company commercial director Fimbo Butallah said the four factories produced a total of 303,000 tonnes of sugar during the 2017/18 financial year against demand of around 450,000.
He said the plans were afoot to produce 348,000 tonnes and 424,000 tonnes in 2018/19 and 2019/20, respectively.
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