Tanzania taxman targets petty traders to raise revenue

Saturday December 15 2018

Clothes on sale at the Kariokor market in Dar es Salaam.

Clothes on sale at the Kariokor market in Dar es Salaam. Tanzania mainland has an estimated four million petty traders “machingas” who do business in the 26 political and administrative regions. FILE PHOTO | AFP 

By EMMANUEL ONYANGO
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Tanzania is targeting to collect Tsh80 billion ($34.7 million) in levies from petty traders by issuing them with government identity cards under a new system.

The system, announced by President John Magufuli, will be monitored by the Tanzania Revenue Authority.

It targets traders whose business capital does not exceed Tsh4 million ($ 1,900).

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that Tanzania mainland has an estimated four million petty traders popularly known as “machingas,” who do business in the 26 political and administrative regions.

Most of the traders hawk goods including food or sell from stalls.

President Magufuli handed over the first bundle of 670,000 identity cards to the 26 regional commissioners for distribution.

The total value of the cards if distributed successfully would earn the government Tsh13.4 billion ($5.6 million).

The money would be paid directly to TRA through its tax collectors.

While handing over the ID cards, President Magufuli asked the regional commissioners to work alongside the district and municipal councils and to desist from harassing the traders since they are now recognised by the government.

Petty traders are often harassed by council law enforcers when found operating in restricted areas.

The harassment also happens in Kampala and Nairobi where city authorities are charged with the responsibility of ensuring traders abide by the by-laws.

Last week, hundreds of traders matched through the streets of Kampala protesting against harassment by law enforcers who catch them operating in unrestricted areas.

Under their umbrella body known as Kampala City Traders Association, the traders accused Chinese nationals of flooding the market with cheap substandard goods which are putting the local trades out of business.

Although there are no official records, it is estimated that there are between 10,000 and 50,000 petty traders in the city.

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