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Sunday, January 26, 2014 

Dar es Salaam forwarding agents reject dollars

The forwarding agents complain that the container management exchange rate is too high and Bank of Tanzania should intervene.

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania - Even as competition between Mombasa Port and Dar es Salaam Port intensifies, forwarders in Tanzania have rejected a directive by the container terminal management to pay in US dollars.

Last month, the Tanzania International Container Terminal Services Limited (TICTS) issued a notice to its customers that all its invoices will be paid in US dollars currency only.

The notice was undated to users, but it stressed that the US dollars payment will start effective this week.

Last week, the Tanzania Freight Forwarders Association (TAFFA) President Stephen Ngatunga told a news conference that they were not ready to start paying in US dollar, and instead they will stick to paying in local currency (Shillings).

“We are not ready to for services in US dollars instead of Tanzanian shillings,” Ngatunga said.

“This is to inform our esteemed customers that with effect from January 27, 2014, all TICTS invoices will be paid in US dollars currency only,” said notice in part.

According to the TAFFA president paying in dollars will increase the cost of doing business.

The forwarders called for a help hand from the minister of finance and the governor to intervene in the ongoing squabble between them and the TICTS management. 

“BoT should make a follow up of the TICTS exchange rate which is very high and unnecessarily increases the cost of doing business,” Ngatunga said.

“We are doing this because we are defending the value of the local currency and the economy at large,” Ngatunga said..

TAFFA claimed that TICTS uses its own exchange rate which is higher than the rate issued by the Bank of Tanzania (BoT).

TAFFA said it is making a written submission to the Finance ministry and Bank of Tanzania (BoT) Governor on the issue. Commenting on the matter, the Surface and Marine Transport Authority (Sumatra) Public Relations Officer, David Mziray said it has not received any complaints from TAFFA, but said the authority follow-up the matter urgently.

In May 2012, the government expressed its intention to ban the use of foreign currencies, especially the American dollar, in transactions within the country.

Former Deputy Finance Minister, Ms. Janet Mbene was quoted saying the government was studying the trend of the use of the dollar currency before talking to the business community involved in such transactions.

“We are going to encourage the use of our Tanzanian shilling instead of the US dollar,” Ms.Mbene was quoted as saying. 

She said the country’s law did not allow people and traders to transact in foreign currencies because that contributed to the devaluation of the Tanzanian shilling against major international currencies. 

By Patrick Kisembo, Sunday, January 26th, 2014