BUSINESS AND THE ECONOMY

Exchange Rates: £1 = TShs 2,000
$1 = TShs 1,100

Presenting the government BUDGET estimates for the 2004/5 financial year on June 9, Minister of Finance Basil Mramba said priorities for help would be the poor sectors including farmers, peasants and petty traders. The Minister outlined measures which would be taken to support the agricultural sector as well as provide allocations for defraying transport cost for fertilizer to selected regions which get adequate rainfall for farming.
He proposed exemption from excise duty for wine and brandy produced from locally grown grapes in order to expand the local market and increase production in Dodoma Region, and black tea and packaged tea from VAT in order to enhance competitiveness following liberalisation of the tea market in the East African Community.
Mramba asked the Parliament to approve a TShs 3,347.5bn/- budget of which TShs 2,239bn/- was recurrent expenditure and TShs 1,091.5bn/- for development expenditure. Out of the total budget, TShs 1,739.2bn/- would come from domestic revenue and the rest from foreign loans and grants, the sale of shares in state companies and domestic financing.
The Minister announced increased excise tariffs on carbonated soft drinks and beer and established excise duty on satellite television broadcasting at a rate of 5% of the retail selling price as well as increased excise tariffs for cigarettes, wine and spirits. He also announced reduced visa fees for foreigners entering Tanzania on business from 200 US dollars to 50 US dollars. He said the government had allocated funds to cover emergency power supplies and that TANESCO would be supported to meet contractual charges in respect of IPTL and SONGAS.

Opposition leaders have criticized the government’s decision to increase funding for security organs saying the move would cause chaos in next year’s elections. Minister for Home Affairs Omar Mapuri defended the decision saying it was timely in the wake of increased banditry. “We’ll strengthen the war against banditry and other acts of evil. Our aim is to have free and fair elections. Power hungry people who would cause chaos will be dealt with accordingly,” he said.

Fees in government day secondary schools have been lowered to TShs 20,000/- from TShs 40,000/-. Each school will get TShs 20,000/- for each student to make up for the deficit, Mungai said, adding that non-commercial private schools and seminaries would each get a subsidy of TShs 10,000/- per student. He said the Government would also support people’s initiatives in the construction of libraries and laboratories. “A development subsidy of TShs 7 million/- will be given in support of people’s initiative in the construction of a classroom and TShs 9 million/- for a teacher’s house,” the Minister said.
The number of subjects on the secondary school curriculum would be reduced from 13 to 9 to put emphasis on core subjects, namely civics, Kiswahili, English, mathematics, biology, history, geography, physics and chemistry – Guardian.

The Government on July 6 announced increases in salaries of civil servants on average by 9% to 12.5% in the 2004/2005 financial year. According to the changes graduate teachers would get TShs 140,000 up from TShs 123,000 while graduate doctors would get TShs. 200,000 up from TShs. 66,000 monthly salary – Mwananchi.

The National Bank of Commerce (NBC) Ltd today has unveiled what it said was set to become the largest VISA-enabled ATM network ever in Tanzania. NBC was offering its clients this international service through its growing association with VISA International. The Bank also lowered its minimum balance on Savings Accounts to TShs. 5,000; it has established 29 Automated Teller Machines across the country and launched Internet Banking. The VISA connectivity will enable anyone with a VISA-enabled debit or credit card to access their external or foreign accounts through any NBC ATM in Tanzania.
NBC has a new Managing Director, Mr Christo de Vries, who has succeeded Gerald Jordaan, who in 1999 became the first non-Tanzanian managing director of NBC after privatisation of the formerly state-owned bank in a deal which brought majority shares under the ownership of South Africa’s Absa Group Ltd – Financial Times.

A group of hotels including the wildlife lodges at Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro, Seronera and Lobo and Mafia Island have been sold to private sector investors who paid some $11.6 million… The investors plan to invest a further $14 million in a upgrading the lodges – Guardian.

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