Following amendments on the Finance Act 2016, the government has collected more than 3 billion/- from two telecommunications firms in the country in July alone.
Speaking before the Infrastructure Development Parliamentary Committee, Assistant Manager (Large Taxpayers Department) of Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), Mr. Godwin Barongo, said this was made possible by the installation of the Telecommunication Traffic Monitoring System (TTMS).
Mr. Barongo explained that the TTMS, installed by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA), has been helpful in getting data and report of money transfers, which are then compared with reports given by the telecommunication companies, who are the tax-payers.
“In essence, TTMS also acts as a compliance monitoring tool, because telecommunication companies know that there is a monitoring system in place, they provide correct data which has helped a lot,” Mr. Barongo, who was representing the Commissioner General explained.
Citing an example of July, Mr. Barongo noted that Vodacom used to pay an average of 360m/- per month on excise duty on money transfers but in July, the company paid 1.9bn/-, while Tigo, which used to pay an average of 250m/- per month, paid 1.48bn/- in the same period.
Responding to questions from the committee as to why the telecommunication companies are not among the top ten revenue payers, Mr. Barongo explained that companies are categorised according to sectors.
On money transfers, according to the TRA official, compliance level has shot up tremendously and with the amendment of the Finance Act of 2016, whose implementation started in July, this year, revenue from the telecommunication companies has increased tenfold.
Mr. Barongo noted that together with TCRA, they are now focusing on capturing revenue on all products in the telecommunication industry at activation point through the proposed Telecommunication Revenue Assurance System (TRASS).
“When the user tops up from a scratch card, we will see the money; likewise with electronic top up through M-pesa and Tigo Pesa and the others. With this in place, revenue will likely go up,” he explained to the committee members, who were so pleased with the work done by the two institutions so far.
The TRA official noted that the system will be able to categorise revenue from voice, short messages (SMS) and data. He noted that the Tanzania Telecommunication Company Ltd (TTCL)’s contribution is still low and needs to be assisted.
On his part, the TCRA Acting Director General, Engineer James Kilamba, said TTMS has also helped to capture revenue from telecommunication calls outside Tanzania whose subscribers made calls to telephone subscribers in Tanzania.
Responding to question as why TCRA did not prosecute mobile money fraudsters or those who use the phones to insult others, Eng Kilamba said TCRA did not have the mandate to take the culprits to court, but usually avails the needed data to security organs that have the mandate.
The Deputy Minister for Works, Transport and Communications, Engineer Edwin Ngonyani, noted that the only way to give mandate to TCRA was through changing the respective laws.
Earlier, Mr Ahmed Shabiby (Gairo-CCM), Mr. Abbas Mwinyi (Fuoni-CCM), Mr William Dua Nkurua (Nanyumbu-CCM) and several other MPs claimed that they had fallen prey to fraudsters, who hijacked their numbers and sent out messages asking for money from friends and relatives.
On his part, the Acting Chairperson of the Committee, Mr. Selemani Moshi Kakoso (Mpanda Rural-CCM), commended the government through TCRA and TRA for implementing the committee’s directives that have seen an increase in government revenue from the telecommunication companies.
Mr. Kakoso stressed that the collaboration between the entities should be deepened and a team formed to ensure more revenue avenues are identified.
He directed TCRA to cooperate with telecommunication companies to reduce money theft where unscrupulous persons hack other people’s accounts and use them to con people.