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Tanzanians react to tax on wigs and hair extensions

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Tanzanian women have reacted with surprise and anger at the news that Finance Minister Philip Mpango is introducing taxes on wigs.

During the 2019/2020 Budget reading on Thursday, Dr Mpango announced a 25 per cent tax on imported wigs and hair extensions, and a 10 per cent tax on locally made ones.

Many male and some female MPs applauded and thumped their desks in approval when Finance Minister Philip Mpango announced the tax in parliament.

Supporters of the levy say it will help women keep their hair natural.

But there has also been public outrage, with women saying they are being punished for wanting to look good in wigs and hair extensions.

The cheapest wigs currently costs around $4 (£3.40), but they can sell for up to $130.

Tanzanians tend to uphold traditional values, but society is changing and many women now wear wigs and exten-sions, the BBC’s Aboubakar Famau reports from the capital, Dodoma.


Well-known wig importer Anastasia Sigera told the BBC: People love artificial hair. Why of all the things that could be taxed did they opt for wigs?”

She added that the new tax could affect the market because people will start buying cheaper low quality wigs.

One woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, told the BBC that she currently spends $450 (£360) on her hair extensions. She added: “It’s like they’re punishing us because women like hair and we like to look good.”
Aristote Mwamtobe, who runs a popular salon in the main city Dar es Salaam, also expressed his anger and thought it could have an affect on people’s relationships.

“The 10 per cent tax [for locally-made wigs] and the 25 per cent tax [for imported wigs] is too expensive for our sisters,” he said.

“They might cut their hair and then get a divorce as the men are used to seeing their wives with long hair, and then suddenly things change!

“Women look so good with wigs.”

In other measures, Mr Mpango announced that the tax on chocolates and biscuits would increase from 25% to 35%, and the tax on imported coolers and other equipment that farmers use to store vegetables would be scrapped.

The new budget is expected to come into force next month.

Mr Mpango also scrapped the exemption on value added tax placed on sanitary towels, saying consumers had not benefited as businesses did not reduce prices when it was introduced

Opposition MP Upendo Peneza said she would campaign against the removal of the exemption, adding that the government should push businesses to lower their prices.

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