25 June 2013

Tanzania: Public Procurement Laws Up for Review

Dodoma — THE government said it will review the public procurement laws to plug loopholes used by corrupt public officials for massive thefts of public funds.

The Minister for State in the President's Office (Social Relations and Coordination), Mr Stephen Wassira said in Parliament that the public procurement system in Tanzania had serious weaknesses and thus was in urgent need for reform.

He said that under its current state, the public procurement system served as a hideout of corrupt officials who steal millions of public finances. "Time has come to review the law and reform the system.

You can hide under the law and steal according to the law," he quipped as he wound up Members of Parliament's discussions on his docket. He said there were evidence that prices of various items procured under the law were inflated to unbelievable proportions.

The procurement law was used to buy items at higher prices than that provided in the market. "Time has come to review the law. You can hide under the law and steal according to the law," he quipped.

He said the 70 per cent of 5tr/- set for development budget would be used under the procurement act, hence the need to review the legislation. "If we do not act now and let corruption thrive everything we buy or make will be substandard. And if we continue like this we will erode development," he said.

On peace and tranquility, Mr Wassira took a swipe at political leaders for not doing enough to preserve peace and tranquility in the country. He said the rising domestic militancy, political and sectarian violence were affecting economic activities and undermining development.

Mr Wassira said it was the duty of all leaders to promote peace in the country to foster development as the two were inseparable. "Peace has close links with development.

Without peace there will be no development and without development there will be no peace. The two are twins," he cautioned. He appealed to all Tanzanians and particularly political leaders to commit themselves in promoting peace and tranquility for the good sake of the nation.

"Let's agree we do away with political biasness. Peace has no (political) party," he said. "It is the obligation of all leaders to ensure that peace is preserved in Tanzania. There will be no joke," he said.

He added that political leaders should not hide under the guise of human rights while violating the rights of other people. "We must balance to know we are breaking the law. Why shouldn't we do things decently and orderly," he asked.

On national priorities, the minister said the six main concerns were so closely linked that working on one will have effects on the others. "You cannot talk of investing in agriculture without improving the infrastructure.

It is difficult to separate them. When you talk of agriculture you must talk about power and that is infrastructure," he said. Tanzania has identified six national priorities that include infrastructure, agriculture, industries, education, health and human resources development.

"We will work on them until they are implemented. Our appeal is for us all to continue to stand by what we have agreed. We will make sure funds are sent to the areas we have chosen," he said.

Mr Wassira said that what was important was to maintain budgetary discipline, to ensure implementation of what was agreed. On economic growth, Mr Wassira said it was true that despite impressive growth, poverty had not declined much.

He said that the growth is not inclusive because it was mainly on the capital intensive sectors such as mining, construction and communication. He said the fast developing sectors were not employing many people and this explains why poverty reduction was only marginal.

He said the growth rate of agriculture that employs about 70 per cent of the population was only four per cent and it was offset by the rising population rate.

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