Dodoma — EMBEZZLEMENT of public funds in local government authorities has landed some 866 officials in courts, district councils' disciplinary committees and Public Service Commission for actions between the year 2011/2012 and September, this year, Prime Minister, Mr Mizengo Pinda said on Saturday.
The officials who suffered the wrath of swindling taxpayers' money include 52 district executive directors, 65 heads of departments and 749 other officials in district councils countrywide.
The premier made the remarks yesterday in his speech to adjourn the session of the House to May 6, next year in which the National Assembly will meet for the marathon budget session.
"Among them 232 officials were sacked, 233 arraigned, 186 suspended while 33 were relinquished of their positions in addition to 133 who were warned, 32 demoted and 36 who were taken to police and PCCB (Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau).
"The government will continue strengthening discipline in use of public funds by taking appropriate actions for all public officials who will be implicated in misuse of taxpayers' money," he said.
The remarks by the PM followed concerns by MPs debating the parliamentary Local Authorities Accounts Committee (LAAC) during the first week of the House session that the government has been reluctant to take actions against thieving officials.
He noted that part from the legal and disciplinary actions against individuals at the local councils, other efforts such as conducting special audits on local authorities in order to check misuse of public funds.
"I would like to inform MPs that despite several challenges in supervision of public funds in local authorities, the government has made strides in checking misuse as it can be indicated by various reports of the Controller and Auditor General (CAG)," he noted.
Audits by the CAG on local government authorities between the financial year 2000/2011 and 2011/2012 has shown that there is significant improvement in proper use of public funds.
During fiscal year 2000/2001, just 16 local government authorities (representing 14 per cent) had unqualified opinion, 23 were slapped with questionable opinion (20 per cent), while 75 councils (representing 65 per cent) received qualified opinion.
The trend has, however, changed during the financial year 2011/2012 where 104 local government authorities (78 per cent) had unqualified opinion while 29 authorities (21 per cent) had questionable opinion. None of the authority had a qualified opinion.
Regarding food situation in the country, the PM said an assessment conducted in October, this year, showed that there was food shortage facing 828,063 people who will need 23,312 tonnes of food by February, next year. "Between July and November, this year, the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) had allocated 16,119 tonnes of food for district councils with shortage of food.
As of December 16, this year, a total of 13,716 tonnes had been distributed to the respective areas," Mr Pinda said. Four districts facing the shortage namely Mwanga, Babati, Igunga, Mpwapwa and Manyoni are yet to collect some 2,402 tonnes of food.
The premier directed executives at local government authorities to ensure that they collect the food stock by January 15, next year or face disciplinary actions, noting that the government will ensure availability of food in areas with shortage.