By ADAM IHUCHA Special Correspondent
Posted Saturday, July 21 2012 at 14:35
The government has stopped a giant company mining Tanzanite gemstone at the Mererani Hills in northern Tanzania from exporting the precious stones over a $2 million tax discrepancy.
Mineral deputy minister Stephen Mselle, said the government took the decision in order to compel TanzaniteOne to pay the amount.
“TanzaniteOne has been suspended from exporting gemstone until it settles the $2 million tax,” Mr Mselle said last week.
But deputy chairman of TanzaniteOne board of directors, Ami Mpungwe, maintains the company has never evaded taxes, blaming the failure to remit the amount on a delay caused by technicalities between his firm and the Tanzania Mineral Audit Agency.
“The delay was not intended at all, however, we have started paying the amount through instalments,” Mr Mpungwe said.
The confusion comes just a month before TanzaniteOne applies for renewal of its operating license.
Sources privy to the issue told The EastAfrican that the government said it will not renew the TanzaniteOne license unless the tax discrepancy is settled, among other conditions.
“It is strange that TanzaniteOne claims to have been paying taxes yet there are no records to show this,” a source within government said on condition of anonymity.
TanzaniteOne planned to produce and export 2.5 million carats of the precious stone worth $24 million in 2012 compared with the 2.38 million carats produced last year.