TANZANIA – Tanzanian Members of Parliament have expressed concerns over the government’s plan to scrap tariffs on imported crude palm oil following the state’s proposal in the 2023/24 budget.

According to MPs, the move would hurt sunflower farmers who had a bumper harvest this year after the government supplied them with improved varieties of seeds.

All Africa reports that the parliament’s concerns followed a statement by the Minister for Finance and Planning, Dr Mwigulu Nchemba, who, while presenting the government’s budget in the House announced that the government planned to revert to the EAC CET rate of 0% instead of 25% on Crude Palm Oil (CPO).

Defending the budget, Minister Nchemba said that the government’s move was to protect consumers’ welfare against skyrocketing prices henceforth enhancing economic growth.

For members of parliament, the move was unfair at a time when the country is making strides toward achieving self-sufficiency in cooking oil and shielding itself from importation costs.

According to Magu Member of Parliament, Kiswaga Destery (CCM), CET should be increased to 35 percent for imported crude palm oil to make sure local sunflower farmers get competitive prices for their produce.

However, while addressing the National Assembly on Tuesday, Nchemba said that the government has heard members of Parliament’s concerns over plans to exempt CET from imported crude palm oil.

In Tanzania, sunflower is among the five major oilseed crops cultivated. It is an important crop to the livelihood of Tanzanians along the entire value chain.

Despite its importance, actors along the value chain face several challenges, resulting in low productivity of only an average of 1.2 tonnes/ha due to low-yielding seeds, poor control of insects, pests, disease, and vermin control, limited access to financial services, limited access to market information and high post-harvest losses.

According to MPs, with the current sunflower seeds production of 3 million per annum, the country still has the potential to increase production to 10 million tonnes per annum.

Positively, the government has taken several efforts to improve productivity, such as by investing in the production of improved seed varieties.

Additionally, in a bid to boost local edible oil production, the government took deliberate steps to include edible oil crops, especially palm oil and sunflower oil in the list of strategic crops to maximize production.

Tanzania seeks to bridge the local demand deficit for edible oil which amounts to 360,000 tonnes against the local production of 290,000 tonnes.

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