Tanzania’s President Magufuli suspends head of telecoms regulator over revenue loss

Tanzanian President John Magufuli has suspended the head of the state-run Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA), saying the regulator failed in its duty, resulting in the loss of potential tax revenues of 400 billion shillings ($182.15 million) every year since 2013.

“I want the government to collect all outstanding (tax) revenues and I will not hesitate to take action against anyone who becomes an obstacle in this tax collection drive,” Magufuli was quoted to have said in a statement from the president’s office.

Ally Simba joins other senior officials, including the head of the government’s anti-graft body, the head of the tax authority and the chief executive of the country’s port authority, who have all been removed by tingatinga, Swahili for bulldozer — a nickname he got while he was Works Minister.

According to the president’s office, TCRA had signed a contract with a private firm in 2013 for the installation of a telecommunications traffic monitoring system, but the watchdog had failed to use it.

The Communications sector is very important to Tanzania, a country looking at diversifying agriculture based economy. The sector is the fastest growing in the country where the number of mobile phone subscribers rose by 25 percent in 2015 to 39.8 million, according to latest government figures. The population of Tanzania is 47 million.

Since taking office last November, President Magufuli has been fighting corruption and inefficiency in Tanzania. The suspension of Simba is in furtherance of this fight.

The president has also ordered the Tanzania Revenue Authority to target large-scale tax evasion by big companies.