Saturday, March 22, 2008

Textiles industry could still save the day

By Erick Toroka

THE collective views among most observers are that Tanzania does have by far great comparative advantage over most of the other countries in the region in the area of textile production.

For example, the country already has in place ample supplies of raw cotton, the possibilities of cheap coal and hydropower, as well as cheap domestic labour with skills already horned through past dabbling in the textile industry. In the 1970s and ’80s, Tanzania was home to at least 32 thriving textile mills.

That was before reforms leading to economic liberalization were undertaken beginning in the late 1980s, resulting in the sidelining of the domestic textile sub-sector in favour of imported substitutes. That is the bad news...

The good news is that this negative trend can be turned round, with the textiles sub-sector being enabled to once again play a major role in propelling the economy up and forward. According to Bernard Kihiyo – an expert in the field of consumerism –

“the cotton and textile sub-sector in Tanzania can leap forward if and when it demonstrates strong capabilities at the firm-level on the supplyside to market products and services worldwide coupled with a high willingness of sophisticated consumers on the demandside to pay for the (domestic) industry's output.” Kihiyo is currently the executive director of the Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society (TCAS).

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Business Times in Dar es Salaam recently, the man said Tanzania needs to take up “the challenge of global trade seriously for it to survive in the rapidly globalizing situation.

“What is missing in our mix is seriousness in exploiting these potentials for our economic development. If we really want our textile industry to grow, we need to critically analyze the tricks of globalization economics.”

This, he explains, “includes all elements of cost-effectiveness and adherence to standards and consumers choice ...In other words, it means flexibility in the market as the world continues to grow smaller, competition for the consumers money ever becomes fiercer – and choices ever wider!”

In that regard, Kihiyo says, “TCAS is ready to join in a national campaign on sensitizing consumers to buy locally-made textile materials and garments ... as long as the producers adhere to the highest standards of quality and ethical conduct.

At the end of the day, this would result in creating more jobs and alleviating poverty in Tanzania.” Before trade liberalization, the textiles sub-sector in Tanzania was one of the strongest growth sectors in the national economy.

It was one of the largest employers – and the third largest source of Government revenues in the form of taxes and export earnings. In fact, cotton was the second most important export crop for Tanzania.

Following trade liberalization over a little more than two decades, the nation’s textiles sub-sector went under, losing heavily to an influx of imports from Japan, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and other South-East Asian countries.

Admittedly, some of the imports were of a better quality. But, more often than not, they were cheap, shoddy affairs, thereby underselling even the few textile goods that were still trickling out of the struggling domestic manufactories.

In effect, Tanzania joined the growing family of countries that were dumping grounds for sub-standard textiles and garments (imported mostly from the Far East) and second-hand clothing, imported from Europe and North America.

In the event, local consumers continued to access a wide range of textile goods that were generally available in the market. One direct effect of this is that these developments hammered the last nail in the coffin of an already moribund domestic industry. Hence the highly unsatisfactory situation which is currently obtaining in Tanzania ...

The ample supplies of cotton in the country, as well as potentially cheap power and labour, do not as yet meaningfully contribute to the national economy in the forms of employment creation and income-generation compared to 1970s and early 1980s.

In recent years, the textiles industry has tried to gather itself together again, compliments of new developments like the Africa Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) of the United States. That piece of legislation enacted in 2002 set out to liberalise access to the vast US market for about 7,000 export items from sub-Sahara Africa and other least developed countries (LDCs).

Ditto for a roughly similar trade initiative by the European Union going under the programme-title of Everything But Arms (EBA). As trade programmes, both AGOA and EBA expanded the duty- and quota-free benefits which were previously available to the poorer nations of the world only under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).

The two programmes in particular are by no means confined to textile goods. The goods covered range from footwear, chemicals and steel to certain motor vehicle components and varieties of agricultural products, including wines!

But, when all is said and done, countries like Tanzania have not been in a position to exploit such opportunities to the hilt. For instance, according to information from the US Embassy in Dar es Salaam, the value of bi-lateral trade flows between Tanzania and the United States in terms of textiles and apparel tells only part of the story.

The value of US imports from Tanzania dropped from US$4.12 million in 2005 to $3.34 million in 2007. On the other hand, US exports to Tanzania went up from $9.48 million in 2005 to $14.5 million in 2007.

The barriers to entry in the US market of Tanzanian exports include the high sensitivity of the American Government and people to standards of quality – with Tanzania consistently falling under par.

In the event, China has taken full advantage of the situation, whereby it supplies about 45 per cent of the entire garments requirements in Europe and America! In fact, many industries in Europe and America have found it prudent to transferred their production activities to China, thereby effectively exploiting the principle of comparative advantage – including availability of cheap skilled labour, good investment policies, and good infrastructure for businesses to flourish.

It is understood that America and European countries are wary of becoming over-dependent on China in this area of economic activity. In this regard, Kihiyo argues, those countries would conceivably be more than thankful to have other alternative sources that are equally reliable.

“It is, therefore, imperative that the Tanzania Government and other stakeholders in the textiles and other industries take greater advantage of these opportunities by seriously acting upon them,” he urges.

Source The Business Times

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Consumer Lobby Pushes for Standards, Quality Laws

The Guardian of 18-03-2008-03
By Patrick Kisembo

The Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society (TCAS) is pushing for the enforcement of product standards and quality laws to protect consumers from the consumption of poor-quality products.

Speaking at the commemoration of the World Consumer`s Rights Day over the weekend, TCAS chairman Daimon Mwakyembe asked the government to put in place a mechanism to enhance the enforcement of standards and laws in the wake of massive circulation of low-quality products in the country.

He said enforcement of legal procedures and regulations to protect consumers against poor-quality products was difficult as many consumers were still unaware of their rights. ``This can be proved by poor attendance of people around here,`` he said citing the small consumers who turned at the World Consumer`s Rights Day celebrations.

He mentioned some of the laws that protect rights of consumers as the TBS Act of 1975, Weights and Measures Agency Act of 1982, Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority Act (EWURA) of 2001, Surface Transport and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA) of 2001, Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority Act (TCRA) of 2003, Fair Competition Commission Act (FCC) of 2003, Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority Act (TCAA) of 2003, and Bank of Tanzania Act (BoT) of 2006.

Mr Mwakyembe, a former Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) director, said domestic markets were flooded with low-quality products, including edible oil and spare parts. ``Apart from foodstuffs, there are several imported products which are below standard, thereby threatening the lives and health of consumers,`` he said.

It`s high time the government, through relevant authorities and organs, started protecting consumers against the danger posed by poor-quality products imported into the country,`` he added. He said consumer rights is a new concept for many Tanzanians, but insisted it was important to be promoted and publicized in the context of protecting consumers, like what is being done in the national fight against HIV/Aids, poverty eradication and social problems.

This year`s World Consumer`s Rights Day theme was, `Production of poor quality food not fit for the health of the consumer - stop using decomposed food.`` He urged all stakeholders to collaborate with the government to ensure effective implementation of consumers-protection programmes and strategies.

The official appealed for collaboration between the government and other East African Community (EAC) partners in the establishment of an East Africa Consumer Protection Act. ``Consumers will not be treated fairly and justly if there is no proper legal regional ground to protect them.

It sounds illogical to have a common market without a common legal basis for the protection of consumers amongst partner states - Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania,`` said Mwakyembe.

TCAS executive director Bernard Kihiyo said a consumer has the right to quality products which meet the buyer`s criteria. According to him, more than 80 per cent of consumers in Tanzania were not aware of their rights and obligations, making them vulnerable to poor quality products. Tanzania is for the first time commemorating the World Consumer`s Rights Day after 25 years since it was officially established in the USA and UK. Other African countries that had been commemorating the day for years are Egypt, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa.

SOURCE: Guardian follow this link;

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Uingizaji bidhaa bandia nchini tishio kwa watumiaji

Nipashe 14-03-200
Na Felix Andrew

Kutokana na kuongezeka kwa bidhaa zisizo kidhi ubora nchini na sehemu nyingine serikali kwa kushirikiana na wadau kadhaa wamekuwa makini katika kuhakikisha kuwa afya za walaji zinalindwa na kusimamiwa ipasavyo.

Sio siri, baada ya uamuzi wa kuwa na soko huria, Tanzania inakabiliwa na changamoto ya uingizaji wa bidhaa za aina mbali mbali ambazo nyingi hazikidhi viwango, jambo linalohatarisha afya za walaji. Lakini pia inatia moyo kuona kuwa serikali inaonyesha kuwa ipo makini katika kukabiliana na hilo ili kulinda afya za watu wake.

Serikali imekuwa ikisema katika mfumo wa kujenga uchumi wa soko, majukumu yake ya msingi ni kuweka mazingira bora, kuhakikisha kwamba unakuwepo ushindani wa haki baina ya washiriki wa ndani na kati ya washiriki wa ndani na wa nje na wakati huo huo, kuhakikisha kwamba maslahi na afya za walaji hazidhuriki kutokana na uhafifu wa bidhaa zinazozalishwa ndani au kuingizwa kutoka nje.

Aidha, watumiaji wa huduma na bidhaa zinazozalishwa au kuingizwa katika soko kutoka nje, wanahitaji kulindwa kutokana na kutozwa bei au gharama za juu sana. Kwa mtazamo huo, uanzishwaji wa Tume ya Ushindani (Fair Competition Commission) pamoja na Mamlaka za Udhibiti una lengo la kuboresha ushindani, kuboresha ubora wa viwango vya bidhaa na huduma na kulinda walaji.

Taasisi zilizoundwa kwa lengo la kulinda afya za walaji ni pamoja na Maabara ya Mkemia Mkuu wa Serikali, National Food Control Commission na taasisi ya kudhibiti ubora wa bidhaa Tanzania. Pamoja na kuunda mamlaka na taasisi hizo kwa lengo la kuimarisha ushindani wa haki na kulinda mlaji, Serikali vile vile inaendeleza mipango ya kuimarisha maabara za uchunguzi wa kemikali na vimelea haribifu itakayokidhi viwango vya Kimataifa kama ule unaojengwa huko Mwanza kwa ajili ya biashara ya minofu ya samaki.

Ni matumaini ya Serikali kwamba baada ya kuweka mazingira bora ya ushindani pamoja na kumlinda mlaji, uchumi wa soko utaendeshwa kwa mfumo na utaratibu ulio bora zaidi na unaojali afya na maslahi ya mlaji kwa ujumla. Katika jitihada za kulinda haki za walaji, taasisi binafsi zimekuwa mstari wa mbele ili kuhakikisha kuwa walaji wanajiepusha na tabia ya matumizi ya vitu vilivyo chini ya viwango.

Hivi sasa sehemu mbalimbali duniani, ikiwemo Tanzania wamekuwa katika maandalizi ya kusherekea siku ya haki za walaji duniani itakayoadhimishwa katikati ya mwezi huu.

Akizungumza na waandishi wa habari jijini Dar es Salaam Mkurugenzi Mtendaji wa Shirika la Kutetea Haki za walaji Tanzania (TCAS) Bw Bernard Kihiyo, anasema kuwa maadhimisho hayo yanayotarajia kufanyika Machi 15 yanalenga kuikumbusha jamii vitendo vya ukiukwaji wa haki za walaji duniani.

Mwaka huu ujumbe wa siku hiyo unasema zuia kutangaza vyakula vibovu. Vyakula vibovu ni pamoja na vile vyenye sukari, chumvi na mafuta na havionyeshi vizuri muda wake wa kumalizika lakini vinafanyiwa matangazo ya hali ya juu kuwa bado vinafaa kwa matumizi ya binadamu, inakuwa ni ngumu sana kusema chakula au kinywaji gani ni kizuri au siyo kizuri kwa afya.

Anasema kuwa TCAS imedhamiria kuandaa wiki ya walaji ambapo mambo mbali mbali yatakuwa yanafanyika kabla ya kufika kilele cha sherehe. Katika wiki hiyo anasema chama kitaandaa mkutano kuhamasisha wananchi na taasisi mbali mbali juu ya siku hiyo.

Taasisi zinazotarajiwa kualikwa kwenye mkutano huo ni madaktari , Shirika la Viwango nchini (TBS) na Mamlaka ya Chakula na Dawa nchini (TFDA). Pia alisema siku ya kilele, TCAS itaandaa maandamano ya amani kutoka Kariakoo hadi Viwanja vya Mnazi mmoja ambapo viongozi mbali mbali watatoa hotuba zao.

Siku ya haki za walaji duniani ilianza kuadhimishwa nchini Marekani ambapo mnamo Machi 15 mwaka 1962 Rais John. F Kennedy alitoa tangazo kwa baraza la Congress. Anasema walaji ndilo kundi kubwa kabisa la kiuchumi lililoathirika au kuathiriwa na maamuzi mengi ya umma na pia ndio kundi muhimu ambalo mawazo yake mengi hayasisiki.

Katika mkutano huo Rais Kennedy alitangaza haki nne za msingi za walaji ambazo wananchi wa Marekani wanazitambua hadi leo.Haki hizo ni haki ya usalama, haki ya kupewa taarifa, haki ya kuchagua na haki ya kusikilizwa. Kwa mara ya kwanza Siku ya Walaji Duniani ilianza kuadhimishwa Machi 15 mwaka 1983 nchini Marekani , Uingereza na baadaye katika nchi nyingine kama Misri, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ghana, Afrika Kusini na imekuwa ikihamasishwa kwa kushirikiana na taasisi ya kimataifa ya kutetea haki za walaji inayojulikana na Consumers International (CI).

Utafiti uliofanywa na TCAS mwezi Aprili mwaka jana katika miji ya Arusha, Mwanza, Moshi, Pwani na Dar es Salaam unaonyesha kuwa zaidi ya asilimia 80 ya walaji nchini hawana uelewa wa kutosha kuhusiana na haki zao.

Kutokana na uelewa finyu wa mlaji kuhusiana na sheria , wafanyabiashara ambao sio waadilifu wameendelea kutumia mwanya huu kudanganywa na kudhulumu walaji kwa kuleta bidhaa duni na zisizokidhi malengo ya watumiaji yaani walaji.

Wakizungumza katika mahojiano, wananchi wengi wanasema kuwa bado hawajazijua haki za mlaji, na hivyo wameomba kuelimishwa zaidi kuhusiana nazo. ``Kwa kweli mimi binafsi bado sijajua nifanye pindi ninapogundua kuwa bidhaa niliyouziwa ni feki au mahali pa kulalamika, `` anasema Bi Rozina Mwambe mkazi wa Kijitonyama.

Mwananchi mwingine aliyejitambulisha kwa jina la Jerome Sanga,anakiri kuwa bado hajajua haki hizo na kuziomba taasisi husika kutoa elimu kwa wananchi namna ya kuzijua na kuzidai. ``Nimekuwa nikiwaona watu wa tume ya ushindani wakikamata na kuziteketeza bidhaa feki, lakini bado sijawahi kusikia wananchi walionunua bidhaa hizo kwa bahati mbaya kama wanapewa fidia au la``, amesema. Hivi karibuni Bunge la Jamhuri ya Muungano lilipitisha sheria kali zaidi ya kudhibiti bidhaa Bandia ambapo kundi kubwa zaidi la watu linalojihusisha na bidhaa hizo litaweza kubanwa ikiwa ni pamoja na wauzaji reja reja na hatua hiyo kuchukua muda mfupi.

Sheria hiyo kwa sasa inasubiri saini ya Rais ili iweza kuanza kutumika rasmi. Mashirika ya kupigania haki za walaji hayana budi kuendelea kuelimisha walaji kuhusiana na haki zao ili kupunguza wigo wa tatizo la dhuluma na uonevu kutoka kwa wafanyabiashara wafanyabiashara wasio waadilifu.

Kwa mujibu wa sheria ya ushindani ya mwaka 2003, imeainisha mambo yote ambayo ni kinyume na taratibu za kibiashara, na imebainisha ni mambo gani yakikiukwa mlaji au mdau mwingine yeyote ana haki ya kushtaki na kulipwa fidia pale ikibainika kuwa ameathirika na tukio la ukiukwaji wa vipengele tajwa, sehemu ya nne, kipengele cha 22 hadi 24 imebainisha hiyo na pia sehemu ya kumi kipengele cha 57 mpaka 91 kimeainisha Mahakama ya ushindani ikiwa ni pamoja na taratibu, mamlaka na majukumu ya Mahakama hii kwa wabia wa biashara ikiwa ni pamoja na mlaji.

Pamoja na kuanzisha sheria mbalimbali za kumlinda mlaji, utafiti unaonyesha kuwa hadi leo hii bado Tanzania inakabiliwa ukiukwaji mkubwa wa haki za walaji kupitia serikali na mawakala wake, wazalishaji, waagizaji wa bidhaa na pia kutoka katika makundi mengine ya jamii yenye nguvu, huku mlaji hajui ni kwa vipi ataweza kukabiliana na kadhia hii.

Kutokana na hili imeonekana ni muhimu kubainisha haki za mlaji katika jitihada za kuwasaidia walaji kuelewa haki zao za msingi ili mlaji aweze kupaza sauti yake kupitia jukwaa la TCAS.

Serikali na wadau wanatakiwa kuanza kuwashirikisha walaji ili wazielewe haki zao na namna ya kuzifuatilia ,kinyume na hapo itakuwa vigumu sana kupambana na uingizaji wa bidhaa feki nchini. Sheria iliyoanzisha TBS inayoipa mamlaka ya kuujulisha umma juu ya bidhaa zisizokuwa na viwango haina budi kuangaliwa upya.

Chini ya sheria hiyo, wakati mwingine TBS hulazimika kuiomba Mamlaka ya Udhibiti wa Huduma za Maji na Nishati (Ewura) kutumia sheria yake, kuwachukulia hatua watu waliokiuka sheria. Inatakiwa TBS ipewe meno yenye `kuuma` pindi panapotokea uvunjaji wa sheria tulizojiwekea badala ya kuzikabidhi taasisi nyingine.

SOURCE: Nipashe Fuatilia link hii