BUSINESS & THE ECONOMY

CHANGES AT AIR TANZANIA
The Government has retired seven top executives (including the General Manager and the Director of Finance) and has demoted the Di rector of Operations and the Technical Director of Air Tanzania Corporation. This action followed within a few days of the appointment at the beginning of June of a new Chairman of the Board of Directors – Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Communications and Transport, Mr Richard Mariki.

The Government has also taken over Shs 12.4 billion accumulated debt. It is believed that a substantial percentage of the work force will be laid off and private investors will be invited to buy shares in the company.

The Corporation has announced increases in domestic tariffs of between 50 and 100% effective August 10, 1992 – Dally News.

THE 1992-93 BUDGET
The budget speech of the Minister for Finance was delivered in the National Assembly on June 18 1992 by Professor K A Malima who had recently exchanged jobs with Mr Steven Kibona as Minister of Planning. Thus, as Professor Malima generously acknowledged in his speech, a large part of the preparatory work had been supervised by his predecessor.

The underlying purpose was stated to be to continue the reforms towards greater market orientation and institutional financial responsibility set in motion in successive economic recovery programmes. Inevitably, therefore. a considerable part of the speech was devoted to a survey of reforms already begun or accomplished. The object of these changes was to open up the economy to private enterprise, to reorganise parastatal organisations on self-sustaining commercial lines, to expose the banking system to competition, to remove from the banks the severe handicap of non-performing assets and to institute various measures aimed at trade liberalisation and a wider access to foreign exchange. The full effect of these changes was likely to become visible only in the medium term. but already some encouraging results were emerging. In comparison with the previous year. the dollar value of exports was expected to show an increase of 7.4% Agricultural production was showing encouraging signs of expansion.

At the centre of the reforms needed was a progressive reduction of the Government’s dependence on external financing to balance not only the domestic budget , but also the country’s foreign trading and payment s account. Revenue in 1991-92 only financed two thirds of recurrent expenditure. the balance being made up out of foreign loans and grants, while export earnings only paid for about a third of minimal import requirements. The bulk of these deficiencies will eventually be made good as a result of economic growth, but a significant contribution was expected as a result of the institutional reforms now in train, or in prospect, and a generally enhanced regard for efficiency and productivity.

The continuing expansion of Government activities in recent years, beyond the limits of available revenue has led to a deterioration in the quality of Government services. an increase in the number of incomplete projects and neglect of preventive maintenance. It was therefore intended that the role of Government should be redefined with the aim of reducing its scope to a size capable of being financed out of revenue based on a small and highly efficient civ11 service. Government would withdraw from activities that could effectively be carried out by the private sector. Central to the remaining functions of Government will be law and order and the provision of economic and social services. In the case of the social services an element of consumer contribution is envisaged.

An element in the reform of Government business is the search for simpler procedures. In future the customs tariff will only contain four rates instead of five and excise duty only two in place of eight. But a notable change announced in the speech is a substantial reduction of customs duty, sales tax, income tax and company tax. The objectives here are to reduce costs of production, to alleviate the burden on consumers and bring about a reduction in tax avoidance . The effect on consumers is of special significance in view of the adverse effect of inflation on personal incomes. The abolition of customs duty and sales tax on all industrial raw materials will not only reduce costs, but also help industries to compete effectively in home and overseas markets. Other taxes have been abolished either because they are obsolete or because they are at odds with present policies. Examples are the 20% levy on the value of air tickets for foreign travel and a 1% tax on share capital.

A number of reasons were given in the budget speech for the decision to reduce taxes. It has been observed that, in view of the narrow tax base and the constant increase in Government services, it had become necessary to raise taxes by substantial amounts in order to balance the books. The result had been a marked reduction of the take-home income of the workers and a decline in revenue collection through tax avoidance. The tax burden was also adversely affecting industrial productivity.

The widespread reduction of customs duties and sales taxes and their abolition on certain items has prompted the Government to discontinue all exemptions hitherto enjoyed by Central Government, Local Government, political parties, religious institutions (except for items used in worship), Non-Governmental Organisations and charities. Local NGO’s and charities will not, however, have to pay tax on materials and commodities given them as donations to be passed on as free gifts to the needy and the poor.

The budget included the customary civil service salary increases to compensate for inflation. It was admitted that salaries were inadequate in view of the high cost of living and that efficiency had been impaired by a lack of appropriate working tools and poor remuneration. While little specific provision appears to have been made in this budget to ameliorate these underlying problems, it may be assumed that planned reduction in the scope of Government services will provide the necessary opportunity.

The budget is a courageous sequel to previous budgets and, in its fiscal provisions , a daring attempt to grapple with deep underlying problems. As a forecast of budgetary performance much reliance is placed on expected psychological reactions, which may or may not eventuate in whole or in part, but the attempt was certainly worth making. Will the new tax structure enhance production , increase efficiency, reduce absenteeism and raise expectations as a result of improvement in morale? Will the more moderate level of taxes reduce tax avoidance? Will simplification of Government procedures result in greater efficiency? All of these outcomes are justifiable hopes and it will be profoundly interesting to read in next year’s budget speech how far hope has been transformed into fact.
J Roger Carter

SOME OTHER BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS
– Minimum wage for civil servants raised from Shs 3,500 to Shs 5,000 (approximately £9 or US $17!) per month; – Abolishing excise duty on locally produced sugar, textiles, garments and cement ; Reducing corporate tax for local firms from 45% to 35%; foreign firms from 50% to 40%;
– Increasing licence fees for birth, death and marriage
– 10% income tax (15% for foreigners) on bank deposit interest ; 20% (once and for all) income tax on dividends;

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