... Treasury coffers will be boosted; smuggling of the precious metal will be curbed
HISTORY was written in Tanzania yesterday with the launching of the 542m/- international gold exchange market in Geita Region which is set to increase revenues to the Treasury coffers and curb smuggling of the precious metal.
Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa launched the modern facility during a colourful ceremony here yesterday and directed regional authorities in all mineral producing areas to ensure they construct exchange centres by June 31, this year.
The one and only facility in the East African region and beyond will attract both local and foreign gold dealers and provide the government with correct statistics on produced gold and earnings.
"Stern actions await anyone who will try to sabotage the gold market for personal interests. This facility will provide reliable market for small and medium scale miners in the region and surrounding to as far as Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda," Mr Majaliwa remarked.
The Premier said the government has taken a number of measures to address challenges faced by small and medium scale miners in many parts of the country, including nuisance levies and taxes.
These include scrapping of the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 18 per cent to zero as well as withholding tax from five per cent to zero rate.
"It is our hope that scrapping of these taxes and construction of this exchange market will address smuggling of gold since miners will be rest assured of reliable market for their products," he pointed out.
The PM further pointed out that the exchange centre will reduce operational costs for miners since all government institutions involved in the trade and financial institutions will be housed under one roof and thus act as a one-stop-centre.
Mr Majaliwa assured the gathering at the launching ceremony that the government is working around the clock to address all challenges in the value chain of the gold business.
During a meeting with stakeholders in the mining sector on January 22, this year, President John Magufuli directed the Ministry of Minerals and regional authorities to construct the exchange markets for minerals.
Speaking at the event yesterday, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Minerals, Prof Simon Msanjila, said that lack of reliable trading facilities for minerals was among factors that triggered smuggling.
"Geita has become the first region to build the exchange market but construction work is undergoing in other parts of the country," Prof Msanjila explained.
Geita Regional Commissioner Robert Gabriel expressed concerns that many mineral-rich regions in the country are poor; pointing out that launching of the centre will improve the lives of the people.
"This building was built using financial resources in the region. We are highly optimistic that it will be a game changer in the region and beyond," he stated.
Apart from maximising revenues for the government, he said that the gold exchange would also open up other business venues like hotels in the region, and increasing the use of the Chato and Mwanza airports.
The President of Federation of Miners Association of Tanzania (FEMATA), Mr John Bina, hailed the government for setting up the facility but complained that financial institutions are reluctant to extend loans to small and medium scale miners.
At the same occasion, the Chairman of Tanzania Bankers Association (TBA) who is also the Managing Director of CRDB Bank, Mr Abdulmajid Nsekela, assured the miners that financial institutions will be provided with loans to improve their operations.
Tanzania will join other African countries to have its own exchange.
Others are Botswana with diamond exchange and South Africa; gold exchange.
Tanzania is ranked fourth in gold production in Africa after South Africa, Ghana and Mali. The key gold mining areas in the country are Geita, Mwanza, Shinyanga, Mbeya and Mara.