The CEO Roundtable of Tanzania (CEOrt) has voiced its concern at what it says is the exclusion of the private sector from formulation and implementation of policies aimed at building an industrial economy.
Addressing the eighth CEOrt Annual Gala Dinner in Dar es Salaam on Saturday, the organisation’s chairman, Mr Ali Mufuruki, listed six issues of concern, including destabilisation of the financial sector in the wake of the banking sub-sector’s weak performance in recent months.
He said there was an urgent need for the government to convene a stakeholders’ meeting to discuss problems currently dogging the country’s financial sector.
“The government should not ignore this problem because it is the first time a major bank has declared a big loss. If destabilisation of the financial sector continues the industrialisation goal will never be attained.”
Mr Mufuruki said what was happening now was in stark contrast to the banking sub-sector’s robust performance in recent years, which played a key role in significantly expanding access to financial services in the country.
In October, CRDB Bank, Tanzania’s largest bank, reported a Sh1.9 billion loss in the third quarter of this year due to non-performing loans as well as tax bills from the past.
The chief guest at Saturday’s event was the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Charles Mwijage, who represented President John Magufuli.
Mr Mufuruki also highlighted five other concerns, including exclusion of the private sector from the government’s policy making process, particularly drawing up of the Second Five-Year Development Plan whose implementation began earlier this year.
Other issues were the continuing energy crisis coupled with expensive electricity; exclusion from negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union; exclusion from dialogue on land policy reforms and making it mandatory for companies to list on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE) through legislation.
“We are of the view that the government is still shying away from actively involving the private sector in deciding on pertinent issues despite the fact that there is frequent talk of and promises on public-private partnership. The government should view private companies as its partners because it depends on them for tax revenue,” Mr Mufuruki said.
He added that without the private sector the government would be in trouble, particularly at this time of stiff global competition driven by market forces.
“A case in point is the decision to compel companies to get listed on the DSE in disregard of the interests of the private sector. The fact is that DSE’s performance is driven by market conditions locally and globally,” he said.
Earlier, CEOrt executive director Santina Benson said they organised the event in recognition of the pivotal role smart partnership between the private sector and the government could play in boosting economic growth.
Responding to CEOrt’s observations, Mr Mwijage said President Magufuli was keen on involving the private sector in the government’s endeavour to build an industry-based economy, adding that one of the Head of State’s first notable undertakings upon assuming office was to seek the private sector’s views on the industrialisation agenda through the Tanzania National Business Council.
“I wish to make it clear that involving the private sector in formulating relevant policies is part of my job. You are welcome to pop into my office. The doors are open. Some of you have been visiting me and holding discussions. Last month I was accompanied by some representatives of sugar producers to Swaziland for a regional meeting on sugar.”
On energy and EPA, he said the government had set aside Sh1 trillion for boosting electricity supply, adding that it was not too late to involve the private sector in EPA talks because negotiations were still going on.
Mr Mwijage said there were several factors that continue to make Tanzania an attractive destination for foreign direct investment.
These include maintaining inflation at single digits, macro-economic stability, high-level creditworthiness and political stability.
Mr Mwijage promised to present concerns raised at the well-attended gathering to the President.
Also in attendance were Retired Prime Minister Joseph Warioba, Zanzibar’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Marketing, Ms Amina Salum Ali, diplomats and other dignitaries.
The forum was jointly sponsored by Mwananchi Communications Limited, Coca-Cola, Acacia Mining and AngloGold Ashanti.
By Ludger Kasumuni