Tanzania: Optimism As Tanzanians Wait for Mobile Money Levy Report

By Gadiosa Lamtey, Rosemary Mirondo

Dar es Salaam — Optimism is high that the newly-hiked mobile money transaction levy will go down after the government receives today a report today on the matter by a the team formed to review the new rates.

The committee was formed nearly two weeks ago after public uproar on the charges that became operational since July 15.

Experts say they expect the team will recommend lowering the levies, to the consumers in a report scheduled to be submitted today.

Speaking to The Citizen, Prof Delphin Rwegasira of the University of Dar es Salaam School of Economics said the public expectation was for the government to reduce the tax burden.

"We expect the government to reduce the burden to enable affordability and equity especially for people handling small money who cannot bear the high costs," he said.

He said it was imperative the government looked for alternative sources of financing mega projects and do away with mobile money levies which may affect financial inclusion.

An independent financial analyst Mr Christopher Makombe said expectations are that the government will scrape the levies that have caused too much noises.

"Mobile money transactions are normally just a transfer of money from one person to another and not a source of income for users. Why do you tax a person transferring the money and not income," he said.

He noted that the new levies will not only affect financial inclusion but also cause mobile money agents to be out of jobs while at the same time revenues for telecommunications companies drop.

Forher part, Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) Consumer Consultative Council (CCC) secretary, Mary Msuya, said they expect the government will put up friendly airtime and SIM card levies when they come into effect next month.

"The aim is to connect more people to the internet through their phones and if the levies are too high then most people will opt out and the good intentions will be defeated," she said.

On Wednesday, President Samia Suluhu Hassan commented that the charges will be friendlier. She said the government decided to introduce levies to finance construction of rural roads which were impassable, to support farmers who failed to transport their produces.

"We will come up with a new modality that will not harm our people," said President Hassan during the swearing-in of new ambassadors at the State House in Dar es Salaam.

Through the new levies, the government planned to raise Sh1.254 trillion to partly finance the main budget for the 2021/22 financial year.