DAR ES SALAAM, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Tanzanian authorities on Friday suspended six tax officials including the head of the revenue authority, pending an investigation into claims of corruption, the latest sign of the new government's determination to tackle graft.
Businesses cite endemic corruption as one of the biggest obstacles to investment in a nation that boasts a wealth of agricultural land, mineral resources and gas reserves.
The suspension of Tanzania Revenue Authority chief Rished Bade and the five others coincided with a visit to the country's main port in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam by Prime Minister Majaliwa Kassim Majaliwa.
The port has been dogged by allegations of inefficiency and corruption.
The World Bank said last year inefficiencies cost Tanzania and neighbours served by the port up to $2.6 billion a year.
Police are investigating the disappearance of about 349 shipping containers worth more than 80 billion shillings ($37 million) from inland container depots that serve the port, Majaliwa said in a statement issued by his office.
"My instructions are that these officials should be arrested to assist the police in their investigation," the prime minister said, referring to the five officials. The presidential spokesman later said the revenue authority chief was also suspended.
President John Magufuli, who was sworn in this month, has pledged zero tolerance for corruption and said he would take personal charge of a new anti-graft drive. The president also ordered steps to cut unnecessary spending.
The port's acting chief was sacked in February pending an probe into allegations he violated procurement procedures. In 2012, the then director general of the port authority and five others were removed amid graft allegations.
($1 = 2,164.0000 Tanzanian shillings) (Reporting by Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala; Eiting by Edmund Blair and John Stonestreet)
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