Speaking after the Association’s board meeting in Dar es Salaam on February 26, TTA chairman, Onorato Garavaglia said exports of raw materials has put the local industries at risk of closure.

He said that some business people now use the opportunity to smuggle the raw materials, mostly to the neighbouring Kenya.

“If the situation remains the same, all the tanneries in the country might be forced to close in a year or two” he said.

About 300 tonnes of raw hides and skin worth more than Sh230million (US$125,000) were smuggled into Kenya through border points between Holili and Tarakea villages early this month in an illegal exodus of the raw materials.

At least 20 trucks each loaded with 16 tonnes of the raw materials crossed the border to Kenya through loose routes along Tarakea area denying the government about Sh140 million (US$76,000) in revenue in a single day and Sh414 million (US$226,000) a month, given the smuggling schedule of three times a month.

The smuggling of raw hides and skins are taking jobs from Tanzanians, denying the badly needed government revenues and premium returns to livestock keepers.

But during the meeting, TTA also expressed concern that despite the challenges the sector is facing, the government also plans to impose export levy in the semi-processed leather (wet-blue).

Currently the government does not charge any levy on the semi-processed skins but charges a 60% or Sh600 (US$3.2) per kilo of raw materials exported outside the country.

Himo Tannery Managing Director, Sabbas Woiso told The Guardian that he has been forced to reduce the number of workers by more than half due to a lack of raw materials.

“The best quality raw materials go outside the country through smuggling, leaving the local tanneries without anything or with the poorest materials,” he said

On his part, the Moshi Leather’s Administration Officer, Lucas Mosha, who also attended the meeting expressed concern that the government was not doing enough to control the worsening smuggling of leather.

According to Mosha, such people get movement permits from the government offices though the latter fails to track them to see exactly where they take the animal products.

Meanwhile, TTA mulls joining other East African tanners in the formation of the East Africa Tanners Association in effort to help improve the sector in the region.

This is also to enable tanners from different countries to learn from each other. “We believe that at regional level we can help improve even the quality of the products that go to the world market,” said the TTA Chairman.

Source: The Guardian (Tanzania)