24 March 2011

Tanzania: Massive Misuse of Public Funds Revealed in Sumbawanga

The Parliamentary Committee for Local Authorities Accounts (LAAC) has discovered that 50 per cent of the funds allocated for implementation of various projects in Sumbawanga Municipal Council in Rukwa Region were misused.

The committee on Thursday met with the top leadership of the Municipal Council in Dares Salaam and ordered for fresh auditing of its accounts by the Controller and Auditor General (GAC), after discovering several discrepancies in the 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 financial years.

The MPs queried financial reporting and accounts of the Municipal Council which showed that more than 600m/- was spent on allowances for top officials during the implementation of road construction, Basket Fund and District Agricultural Sector Investment Project (DASIP).

"We are not happy with your accounts and we advise for the books to be brought to CAG for fresh auditing within two weeks from now and we are going to carry out physical verification on the same," directed Mr Iddi Azzan, LAAC Vice- Chairman.

He said the committee was disappointed on how the officials kept books of accounts which lacked important supporting documents indicating there were serious financial irregularities that needed urgent action.

During the interrogations with officials, the MPs showed with evidence dubious payments of 98m/- for the consulting work done by Ms UWP Consulting Limited but the payment for the job was issued to Ms Mayfair which admitted to receive it in favour of the payee, contrary to the payment procedures.

In another occurrence, the records showed, there was a construction work value at 80m/- but the Bill of Quantity (BOQ) and the work contract were nowhere to be seen. It was further discovered that the DASIP projects were equally affected since 50 per cent of more than 100m/- allocated to implement the projects were spent for tea and allowances.

"It is funny that the senior officials of the Municipal Council opted to spend these funds for seminars, workshops and meetings instead of directing them to implement Kilimo Kwanza. In this regard Kilimo Kwanza can not succeed at all," said a member of the committee, Mr Godfrey Zambi (Mbozi East- CCM).

As if that was not enough, the MPs also discovered another portion of 50 per cent of the funds allocated for fighting HIVAIDS which were mismanaged, amid the reports that the council faces a shortage of protective gears like condoms leading to the HIV prevalence of about 7 per cent now.

Budget allocated for the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF) was not spared as one committee member, Mr Joseph Selasini also reported a scenario where officials spent 5m/- to discuss a project with a value of 4m/-.

"Why should one spend 5m/- for the evaluation of construction of classrooms with a value of 4m/-," he wondered.

The Municipal Director, Ms Sylivia Siriwa admitted and promised to work on the committee's directives over the accounts discrepancies. LAAC Chairman Mr Augustine Mrema told

reporters later that his committee will continue holding corrupt councils accountable for their actions.

"We met the Minister of Local Government and Regional Administration (George Mkuchika), who assured my committee of every support and encouraged us to carry on. We are going to deal with all corrupt elements effectively," he said.

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