PRESIDENT Samia Suluhu Hassan has assured Tanzanians of relief over escalating petroleum products prices starting June 1, this year.
In the wake of soaring fuel prices, President Samia addressed the nation on Monday evening, revealing that the government is working on tax regimes to address the crisis which has affected not only Tanzania but other parts of the world.
Ms Samia explained that the Minister for Finance and Planning, Dr Mwigulu Nchemba, will next month spell out more tax regimes aimed at providing more relief to the people during the tabling of the national budget for fiscal year 2022/2023.
The Head of State noted further that the Minister for Energy, Mr January Makamba, will today address the National Assembly, in which he will explain measures to mitigate the soaring prices of the precious liquid.
"The government realises the burden of the rising prices of oil to the people and thus I have directed that the government should economise its recurrent spending to cushion the soaring prices of fuel. "There will be a relief on the prices of oil starting June 1, this year, as the government works on tax regimes starting next financial year in July," Ms Samia remarked.
President Samia pointed out that oil prices in the world market have been increasing during the past 18 months. "The government has undertaken various measures to address the challenge but the pace of escalating prices of the commodity has not yielded positive results.
"In October last year, I directed scrapping of some levies charged by government institutions on fuel and this led to loss of revenues amounting to 102bn/- but these measures did little to address increasing prices," she stated.
President Samia was, however, pleased that unlike other countries facing shortage of fuel; Tanzania has adequate stock of oil for local consumption.
"The soaring prices of petroleum products have affected many countries due to factors which are out of our control. The government of Tanzania will continue to take measures to cushion the people against the burden of the costs," Ms Samia pledged.
President Samia had earlier directed responsible government ministries and officials to come up with immediate solutions to address the escalating prices of petroleum products in the local market. Ms Samia issued the directives at the Magogoni State House in Dar es Salaam on Sunday during a meeting with Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa.
The meeting was also attended by Mr Makamba, Dr Nchemba and the Commissioner General of Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), Mr Alphayo Kidata, as well as Permanent Secretaries from the respective ministries.
The directive by the Head of State comes when the National Assembly is today set to receive a report from the government on short-term measures aimed at addressing the increased prices of fuel prices. Just last week, the august House issued a five-day ultimatum to the government to come up with a substantive short-term strategy to cushion the population against the skyrocketing fuel prices in the country.
The Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Tulia Ackson, issued the deadline last week after Members of Parliament debated the private motion tabled by Mr Omary Kigua (CCM-Kilindi), in which the MP raised serious concern on the fuel prices surge.
"Members of Parliament gave their thoughts towards this matter and we fully understand that the government has been working on it. We again ask the government to document all MPs' contributions so that we can get the statement next Tuesday," Dr Ackson tasked the government.
Before the matter was raised in the National Assembly, Premier Majaliwa held a meeting with responsible government ministers after which he said the government was looking at alternatives to ease the cost of living that has been caused by the hike in fuel price.
The PM asked Tanzanians to continue being patient as the government was trying to tackle the matter, to ensure the challenge is addressed accordingly. The emergency meeting was attended by the Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office, Policy, Parliament and Coordination, Mr George Simbachawene, Dr Nchemba and Mr Makamba.
"This meeting is held in response to instructions of President Samia, who has instructed the responsible dockets to come up with short and long-term solutions on the matter," Mr Majaliwa said through a statement issued by his office.
According to the Premier, the Ministry of Energy has started to look for alternative ways of ordering petroleum products as well as reducing levies and tariffs to contain the price hike. "President Samia is aware of the challenges that Tanzanians are facing as a result of increase of fuel price at the world market, that is why, she instructed us to look for solutions on the matter," he stated. The PM noted further that the government is working on advice from members of parliament on using alternative ways of importing fuel.
"The process has started, there were 24 applicants and right now we have remained with six bidders that have been taken to the next step," he noted, adding that the government is assessing the distribution capacity of the interested bidders. Some MPs called for a thorough scrutiny into the fuel importation system, including checking the integrity of some individuals engaging in fuel imports.
The MPs who contributed to the motion asked fellow legislators and the government to be careful when working on measures to avoid the disruption of projects' implementation in the country. When contributing to the motion, George Simbachawene, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office (Policy, Parliament and Coordination) said the government under President Samia is working on the matter round the clock.
"The best thing about this matter is that all of us, the President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, ministers and now you, the MPs, have joined forces searching for a solution to the problem." However, he cautioned against insisting on measures that might end up disrupting budget implementation. Minister for Energy January Makamba repeated his explanation, saying the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia has had detrimental effects to the oil business in the country and around the world.
However, he outlined some long term measures to alleviate the situation such as establishing a Fuel Stabilisation Fund and revitalising and strengthening Tanzania International Petroleum Reserve Limited (TIPER).