The Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment, Charles Mwijage, told The Guardian yesterday that the sugar has already been verified to confirm whether it is really for industrial use and not domestic use.
Mwijage directed the permanent secretaries in his ministry and the Ministry for Finance and Planning to immediately and jointly deal with all the documentation required to clear the consignment from the port.
The Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) on behalf of beverage producers has voiced concern that most of the plants will soon have to be shut down if the release of the sugar consignment continues to be delayed.
“We are aware that the producers are running out of their sugar stocks. We have already received letters from CTI and the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) on the matter. We are working on it,” said Mwijage.
He added that the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) will also be involved in the sugar clearance process.
According to CTI communications officer Perege Gumbo, most beverage producing plants are becoming increasingly desperate amid dwindling industrial sugar stocks that are expected to dry up in seven to 10 days’ time.
“Most of these plants will be forced to close down operations. That is why it is important for the government to intervene and rescue the situation by releasing the sugar from the port without further interruptions,” Gumbo said.
The beverage producers with industrial sugar consignments stranded at the port include Anjari Soda Factory Limited, A-One Products and Bottlers Limited, Bakhresa Food Products Limited, Chemi and Cotex Limited, Coca Cola Kwanza Limited, and Furaha Nyanza and Company Limited.
Others are Iringa Food and Logistics Limited, Iringa Food and Beverage Limited, Iringa Vegetable Oil and Oil Related Industries Limited (IVORI Limited), Sayona Drinks Limited, and SBC (T) Limited.
They use the sugar as key inputs for the production of soft drinks and other related beverages.
It is estimated that beverage producers import about 175,000 tonnes of industrial sugar annually.
The government has been striving to ensure that the imported sugar is not misused by unscrupulous businesses to the detriment of local sugar industries.
According to Gumbo: “The government’s intention is good and we (CTI) support it ... what we are requesting is that the verification processes are speeded up so that faithful beverage producers are not hurt.”