The president of Tanzania ordered the military to build walls around its tanzanite mines and asked the central bank to buy the precious stone to boost reserves due to the latest twist in a spat with mining firms over alleged tax evasion.
Tanzania has been cheated out of its fair share of mineral wealth through tax dodging and smuggling, allegations which the culprits deny.
A statement from the presidency said, “All the minerals will be controlled and will pass through one gate and he (Magufuli) ordered the (central) Bank of Tanzania to take part in the tanzanite buying trade,”.
A parliamentary inquiry team said that it had uncovered massive smuggling of the blue-violet tanzanite gemstone, found only in the East African nation.
The military was ordered by Magufuli to build walls with checkpoints and security cameras around all tanzanite mining concessions in northern Tanzania “to control illegal mining and trading activities
“Even if someone swallows some tanzanite gemstones, they will be detected at the proposed checkpoint,” Magufuli said.
“ It is unacceptable that Tanzania gets just 5 percent of revenues from the global tanzanite trade – all the rest of this precious gemstone benefits other people abroad.”
“We recommended that a perimeter wall should be built and the tanzanite mines should be declared as a controlled area, since 2002, to curb smuggling and government revenue loss,” Mollel, who is a tanzanite miner and trader, told Reuters.
“This will help assure buyers in the U.S that the gemstones are legitimate and all the relevant taxes, including royalties, were paid.”
Tanzania rebuilt the legal, regulatory and fiscal framework governing the mining sector with three new laws in July, sending stock in foreign-owned mining companies plunging.