THE government has been urged to stop auctioning the remaining seven natural gas blocks which is slated for October 25, this year, until a policy that shows how Tanzanians will benefit from the resource is put in place.
Speaking to the media recently in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) Chairperson, Mr Reginald Mengi, said the government has gone very fast in its intention to auction natural gas blocks, considering that Tanzanians do not participate in any way in the exploitation of the resource for lack of financial muscle.
"Tanzanians are poor but not poor mentally, so they must be involved in the sale of their assets. It is the responsibility of the government to come up with a deliberate policy to give opportunities to Tanzanians to share in the exploitation," Mr Mengi said.
"Empowerment policies should be taken seriously, otherwise Tanzanians will end up only hearing about the existence of the natural gas resource," he added. Mr Mengi said that according to the current policy there is no special feature which gives Tanzanians the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process, adding that procedures needed to empower them.
Announcing the planned date for the auction of natural gas blocks as October 25, this year, Mengi said the government planned to sell them to big investors from abroad. He said the belief that Tanzanians could not marshal up 100 million US dollars per one gas block was wrong, insisting that this was the right moment for the government to come up with policies which would give citizens the opportunity in the decisionmaking process.
For his part, TPSF Deputy Chairperson, Mr Salum Shamte, said the allocation of licences to investors was for oil and not for natural gas. "We have to wait for the draft natural gas policy to be promulgated before the new constitution goes into force," Mr Shamte said.