MPs: Save Leather Industry (via The Citizen Newspaper)
Monday, 13 February 2012 12:32
By Polycarp Machira
The Citizen Reporter
Morogoro. Two parliamentary committees now want the government to take quick measures and save the leather sub-sector that is on the brink of collapse.Members of the parliamentary committees on Industry and Trade and that of Public Organisation Accounts (POAC) wondered why the government was quiet while the sector that could lead to over 5,000 direct employment is slowly dying.
Speaking during a familiarisation tour to the Morogoro Tannery, the MPs took issue with how the ministry of Fisheries and Livestock was handling the leather sub-sector, saying there is a need for a serious decision to save it and boost government revenues.
Briefing the MPs, the firm’s managing director Onorato Garavaglia said the factory might be closed this week due to lack of raw skin and hides.
He said the factory that employs 500 people when at full operation now has 32 workers, adding that the situation is similar in other six tanneries in the country.Led by the POAC chairman, Mr Zitto Kabwe, the MPs promised to engage the government on how fast the situation can be improved.
He wondered why some leather processing industries in the country are no longer operational, forcing Tanzanians to buy imported shoes and other leather-related products.
“It is a real pity that some of the industries that can increase employment opportunities in the country are slowly dying. We will have to sit down and strategise the way forward to save the nation from this big loss,” he said.
According to Mr Kabwe, neglect of the sector by the government was a serious issue that needs to be resolved as soon as possible. He added that there is a need to focus on the ministry of Livestock and Fisheries on the issuance of licences to traders who export raw skin and hides.
He noted that records show only one person at the ministry is responsible for approving the certificates and export documents, a situation he said might lead to corruption.
But he also keenly noted that something could be amiss as Tanzania, one of the countries with the largest number of domestic animals, cannot export finished leather products to other countries and world market.
The potential annual hides and skins production in the country, according to government records, with off-take rates of 15 per cent for cattle and 20 per cent for goat and sheep, amount to about 3.8 million bovine hides, 2.4 million goatskins and 2.2 million sheepskins.
Hides and skins collections average only 50 per cent of potential slaughter; that is: 2.4 million cattle hides, 900,000 goatskins and 400,000 sheepskins.The tanners say they invariably haggle for the lowest possible price and seldom agree as illegal Pakistan traders pay local suppliers higher prices, only to cheat on duty payment to the government, allowing them better prices in their countries.
The Tanzania Tanner Association wants an immediate ban on the export of raw hides and skins, which are normally processed for making shoes and other imported leather products at extremely high prices.
Industry and Trade committee chairman Mahmud Mgimwa charged that the committee held several meetings with leather stakeholders including government officials prior to last budget sessions and agreed that changes were to be effected. However, he said nothing has happened so far.“This is a serious matter that we discussed at length last year, but seemingly it is getting out of hand, and we need to urgently consider the implications,” he said.
His concern was that the local tanneries should improve their capacities to absorb all the raw skin and hides in event a total ban was in place to avoid a situation where farmers would have nowhere to take the animal products.
The Makete MP, Dr Binilith Mahenge, for his part, said it was high time the government focus on how to assist the local industries in effort to increase employment, rather than allow foreign traders to export raw materials outside the country.
He compared to what facing the local tannery to the situation pyrethrum processing industries are facing in Iringa, saying: “If no action is taken, the foreign traders would keep on exporting national wealth to their countries.”
Source: The Citizen