By Alvar Mwakyusa
Tanzania tops the three East African Community’s (EAC) member states that tabled their 2017/18 fiscal plans yesterday in revenue collection and expenditure.
Finance and Planning Minister Philip Mpango presented the 31.7tri/- budget, beating by far his Rwanda and Ugandan counterparts, Claver Gatete and Matia Kasaija, respectively.
While Rwanda put its budget at 5.656tri/-, Uganda had 17.4tri/-. However, Kenya, which presented its budget estimates three months earlier in March to provide funds for the General Election slated for next August, remains the largest spender in the region with the 55.9tri/- budget.
Crisis-torn Burundi and South Sudan tabled their estimates last year, with Burundi’s Finance Minister Donatien Ndihokubwayo announcing in December the budget of 2.824tri/- while his South Sudanese counterpart Stephen Dhieu Dau presented his 660.9bn/- plan in last October.
Moving the budget estimates in Dodoma yesterday, Dr Mpango told the august House that the Finance Ministers in the six-state EAC grouping had agreed to undertake the comprehensive review of the Common External Tariff (CET) as a requirement under the Customs Union Protocol.
They further agreed to effect changes in the CET and amend the East African Community- Custom Management Act (EAC-CMA), 2004, with a focus on industrialisation for job creation and shared prosperity.
According to Dr Mpango, the ministers had agreed to extend a stay of application of the EAC CET rate on crude palm oil through application of 10 instead of zero per cent for one year.
“The measure is intended to continue supporting the production of oil seeds and growth of edible oil industries. In order to ensure successful implementation of the industrial development strategy, we need to promote oil seeds and edible oil production in the country,” he stated.
The other area in which the ministers agreed upon was the continual of duty remission at zero per cent rated duty on inputs for manufacturers of “air filters” in the region.
The measure aims at supporting the local manufacturers of the products in the region and create employment, Dr Mpango told parliamentarians.
Traders in the region should also have all reasons to smile as the EAC grouping has agreed to grant a stay of application of EAC CET rates on Electronic Fiscal Devices (EFDs) and apply zero per cent rate duty instead of 10 per cent for one year.
Minister Mpango said the plan is to encourage the use of EFDs for accounting of valued added tax (VAT) for efficient management control in areas of sales analysis and stock control system. Uganda’s Kasaija said his government had acquired the 98 per cent of land required for oil refinery.
“The government is in the process of selecting a lead investor to partner with in the development of the refinery.
As you know, we have already agreed with our Tanzanian counterparts to settle for the Hoima- Tanga route,” Mr Kasaija told the Ugandan legislators. On the other hand, tabling Tanzania’s state of economy report earlier yesterday, Dr Mpango, informed the lawmakers that Tanzania maintains the lowest inflation rate at 6.1 per cent as of May, this year.
Last year, he explained, Rwanda recorded an inflation rate of 7.1 per cent, Uganda 5.4 per cent, Tanzania 5.2 per cent while Kenya and Burundi posted 6.3 and 5.6 per cent, respectively.
However, as Tanzania maintained a single-digit inflation rate as of May, this year, just like Uganda at 6.4 per cent, the rate increased to double digits at 21.10 in Burundi, with Rwanda and Kenya recording 13 and 10.28 per cent, respectively.