Tax officials deposited public funds in fixed accounts to reap profits: Magufuli fired them

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Tanzania president John Magufuli said he sacked the chairman of Tanzania Revenue Authority and dissolved its board over an attempt to extort profit from a sum of  shillings 26 billion meant for the institution’s recurrent expenditure.

Magufuli who was officiating the 31st graduation of Open University of Tanzania (OUT) said he learnt that board chairman Bernard Mchomvu and his team approved the depositing of the money into fixed accounts from three commercial banks to share profits among themselves.

“After I learned of the irregularity, I directed that the money should be returned and thereafter dissolved the board,” he said.

The “bulldozer” said there is a growing tendency of public officials to hoard huge amounts of funds in commercial banks and make away with profits accrued.

The trend according to Magufuli causes government to experience shortage of funds and as a result turn to the banks for loans at high interests.

“While we are working hard to fight ghost workers and people who benefit illegally from funds meant to help other Tanzanians living in abject poverty, some senior officials have come up with new ways of personally benefiting from public funds” he told a jolly gathering of distinguished scholars, students and other guests.

The president further revealed that he had learned that the Tanzania Education Authority (TEA) has as well hoarded some money in fixed accounts and yet it has been seeking contributions from various stakeholders.

“TEA was established for a purpose, now it bothers me that it calls for contributions and yet it has funds stashed in fixed accounts,” he noted with concerns.

Magufuli has won a household name in the region for his stance against graft. On November 5, 2015, barely a month in office, he fired TRA Commissioner General Rished Bade and his deputy, Lusekelo Mwaseba, on allegations that importers evaded about TSh 80 billion in tax on 349 containers that were irregularly cleared at Dar es Salaam Port.

He has reportedly executed major reshuffles at the body including countrywide transfer of tax collection officers as a way of combating graft.
News reports had indicated a rise in revenue collection has risen from a monthly average of Sh900 billion to well over Sh1.3 trillion.
However, The Citizen newspaper reported that during a parliamentary debate of the 2017/18 Budget Framework and National Development Plan, MPs from both the ruling CCM and opposition faulted TRA for failing to widen the tax base, adding and said the recent increase in tax revenue could be attributed to tax that was due but which was not collected.