TANZANIA: Mobile levy review team formed

Dar es Salaam. The government has formed a team of experts that will review the mobile money levy and come up with recommendations on July 29, this year.

The Treasury permanent secretary, Emmanuel Tutuba, told The Citizen yesterday that the team will look into the implications of the levy, which had been roundly criticized, since it became effective on July 15.

In an effort to raise revenue by Sh1.254 trillion budget for the 2021/2022 financial year, the government last month amended the Electronic and Postal Communication Act (CAP 306) by imposing a levy of between Sh10 and Sh10,000 on mobile money transactions, depending on the amount sent or withdrawn.

A calculation of the charges indicate that sending Sh1 million to someone and having the money withdrawn will cost a total of Sh31,000 if all the current and new charges are added up.

Tanzanians believe the amount being deducted was just too high for them to carry and that it was going against the country’s financial inclusion agenda.

This forced the government to act, with the Prime Minister, Mr Kassim Majaliwa, convening a meeting of top government officials to deliberate on the matter.

And, Mr Tutuba told The Citizen yesterday that the team, formed by the Prime Minister, seeks to advise the government on the way forward.

“The team is supposed to consult with telecommunications companies as well as the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) by looking at several scenarios related to the mobile money levy before coming up with recommendations,” he said.

He said the team comprises experts from the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA), Bank of Tanzania (BoT), the ministry of Finance and Planning as well as from the ministry of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

Finance minister Mwigulu Nchemba , said earlier this week that the public outcry due to the levy had also caught President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s attention.

Dr Nchemba said since the levy had become legally-binding after Parliament approved the 2021 Finance Act and Appropriation Act, the Ministry of Finance and Planning and ICT will have to work on the matter via regulations in a bid to bring the users some relief.

The Finance Act 2021 directs the Finance Minister to consult with his ICT counterpart and make regulations prescribing the manner and modality under which the levy on mobile money transfer transactions may be collected and accounted for.

Analysts on Tuesday noted that the only quick solution to the problem was for the government to decide not to enforce the law on mobile levy and instead take it back to Parliament for review in the October sitting.

They were of the view that since the law has been enacted and assented to, the minister’s powers end only on the regulations, which he can either decide to review or cancel.

They were also of the view that the government can also decide to return the law to Parliament under a Certificate of Urgency for a review.

SOURCE:THE CITIZEN / Rosemary Mirondo