[h=2]Zanzibar govt restricts food sale to Mainland[/h] By Correspondent 8th August 2012 Zanzibar government has restricted food items including rice, sugar and wheat flour from entering into the Mainland market in a move to provide relief to its people. Isles Industry, Trade and Marketing minister Nassor Ahmed Mazrui said that the government arrived at the stand when reviewing decision on exportation of food items to East African Community member countries including the Mainland. Imported rice in Zanzibar sells at 42,000/- per 50kg, while on the Mainland, the same is disposed of at 75,000/-, he said, adding that all this was a result of tax relief provided by the Isles government. The announcement of the stance came when Minister Mazrui was tabling his 2012/13 budget estimates in the ongoing session of the Members of the House of Representatives at Chukwani. The government has reduced the tax rates so as to give relief to its people, he said, noting that rates, also used in other EAC member states are different. The minister however did not fall short of observing that in Zanzibar there are greedy businessmen who might misuse the opportunity by transporting the said commodities to the Mainland, a thing that would be contrary to the governments intention. Food prices in Zanzibar have been giving great relief to the people since the government took initiatives to reduce taxes after the start of the holy month of Ramadhan. Explaining, he said that the tax rates of such commodities in EAC member states are as follow: rice is charged 75 percent, sugar 100 percent and wheat flour 35 percent. The government has been obliged to use the law governing the transfer of basic commodities, specifically food items, out of the Isles so as to ensure that there is food security in the area, the minister said. In the course of doing so, he said, it has impounded 86.1 tonnes of rice and 60.4 tonnes of sugar that were being illegally transported out of Zanzibar. Minister Mazrui said that the suspects behind the illegal transport were fined and the government collected 33.7m/- A research by the Zanzibar government has shown that prices of these commodities have been attracting many businessmen to export the same outside the Isles. The tax difference was due to government policy to empower its people to afford the food items hence get life relief, he said. Zanzibars tax rates assessment is one tonne per USD160 instead of one tonne per USD 575 and businessmen are required to pay 12.5 percent in tax on the food items. It is because of this that in the Zanzibar market, sugar for example, is sold at 1,500/-, rice at 1100/- , while wheat flour sells at 1100/-. The Minister told the House of Representatives that trade between Zanzibar and the Mainland has been growing although there have been complaints by businessmen that they are taxed twice in the Mainland market.