Local contractors have expressed concern that the government has continued to skip them in tender awards, preferring foreign contractors instead who fail to complete projects in time.
The concern was expressed by Contractors Association of Tanzania (CATA) General Secretary Placid Ngiliule when talking to The Guardian during a one-day workshop on various 2013/14 tax laws changes organised by the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA).
He said the tendency of awarding tenders to foreign contractors is discouraging the locals.
He said it is a shame that 60 percent of the construction market is under foreign firms and only 40 percent is operated by local contractors.
“Not all local contractors lack professionalism or technological skills to engineer the projects that are entrusted to foreign firms,” he stressed, saying that they should be judged by their work.
Ngiliule argued that the government should prioritise local contractors in awarding tenders so as to empower them, something that will fast track national development.
According to Ngiliule, these foreign contractors make loads of profit but lots of it goes to their country (capital flight), something that denies the government a whole bunch of revenues.
“Local contractors are in a better position of increasing permanent employment opportunities and contribute a great deal in the country’s economy,” he reasoned.
Expounding on the employment issue, he said people who secure jobs with foreign contractors are normally on a temporal agreement because once the project is complete, they are left jobless.
He pointed that CATA is trying to build capacity among local contractors by helping them access capital that would help them purchase modern working equipment.
“There is a need to empower local contractors because many of them still look like small medium entrepreneurs due to lacking capital and tenders,” he said.
Elaborating on tax charged on local contractors, he noted that TRA cuts much money from them thus causing CATA to fail operating on its own.
He said there should be a limit on tax and other bills so that the association can remain strong.
Ngiliule also challenged the government to pay contractors in time and also award tenders jointly between foreigner contractors and the local ones to facilitate exchange of experience, technique and skills.