Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Lawmakers Want Kikwete to Dismiss Non-Performing Ministers

Dodoma — THEY stood and spoke emotionally in the debating chamber last week after parliamentary committees on budget, local authorities and public accounts presented their reports which had one feature in common, loss of billions of shillings of taxpayers' money.

"For the first time ever, we have a ruling party Secretary General who is fed up with the non-performing ministers who should go," said Kigoma South legislator (NCCR Mageuzi), David Kafulila.

Mr Kafulila who was debating the three reports presented by their Chairmen, Andrew Chenge, Rajab Mbarouk and Zitto Kabwe, said parliament should stop advising the government and instead take action to stop loss of billions of taxpayers' money.

"We cannot continue advising the government year in year out to stop this massive loss of public money. After all, look at the ministers' seats, there is nobody. As parliament, we should now resort to action," said the tough talking lawmaker emotionally last Saturday.

As Kafulila spoke, only four cabinet ministers and two deputies were in the debating chamber and most members of parliament were equally disturbed. "I think the Prime Minister is being too soft with them, he is my brother but we need to improve on this," Kafulila argued.

A ruling party legislator for Mwibara constituency, Kangi Lugola did not mince words but advised President Jakaya Kikwete to dismiss Prime Minister, Mizengo Pinda and Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office responsible for Local Government and Regional Administration, Hawa Ghasia.

"Every year we have witnessed loss of billions of taxpayers' money at ministries, district councils and other public institutions but the worst thing is that huge sums of money have been lost at Hawa Ghasia's ministry which is under the Prime Minister's Office," Mr Lugola who is known for his straight talking, said emotionally.

Saying absence of the majority cabinet ministers at a time when parliament was debating reports relating to performance of the executive was tantamount to impunity. "It's impossible madam Speaker that out of the six deputy ministers, only two are here and four cabinet ministers, I doubt if you have given all of them permission" Lugola argued while throwing fists in the air in frustration.

"I am urging my fellow ruling party members of parliament to stand with our Secretary General, Abdulrahman Kinana and discipline the non-performing ministers," he charged while directly naming the premier and minister Ghasia as first casualties.

As Lugola raided Mr Pinda and Ms Ghasia, at times using strong verbal tantrums, government Chief Whip who is also Minister of State in the PMO responsible for Policy and Parliamentary Affairs, William Lukuvi who is watching from his seat in disbelief, probably so shocked that he never intervened to save his boss.

Lindi Urban MP (CUF), Salum Baruani, Tandahimba MP (CCM), Juma Njwayo and Kasulu Urban MP (NCCR Mageuzi), Moses Machali all spoke against high level graft, loss of billions of public money and a growing culture of patronage in the government.

"This is a cartel of thieving officials and that's the reason someone has stolen public money at one district council, they get transferred to another district council and sometimes promoted," charged Mr Mbarouk while presenting a report on Local Authorities Accounts Committee (LAAC) for the year ended June 2012.

Among other key findings which annoyed the majority of MPs, the LAAC report established that district councils are rife with thieving officials who contract private companies to collect revenue which ends up in a few corrupt people's pockets.

"The sums of money collected by these agents but not remitted to district councils has been increasing as can be witnessed by an increase in number of lost receipt books," Rajab noted saying because councils' revenue ends up in a few people's pockets, most of them survive on government subventions.

While district councils collected only 236.7bn/- during 2011/12 season, their expenditure was over 2.27trn/-, the LAAC report indicated. That revenue collected by councils ends up in a few people's pockets is testified by an increase in the number of missing receipt books from 682 involving 36 districts in 2010/11 to 2,990 books involving the same number of councils in 2011/12.

"In an audit conducted in 2011/12 involving 56 district councils, over 4.46bn/- was not remitted by agents to district treasurers as required although the money was collected," Rajab noted while further noting that thieving senior officials were either transferred or promoted involving Mwanza city, Mvomero, Kishapu, Kilindi, Bagamoyo, Same and Masasi.

Mr Kabwe's PAC report covering year ending June 2012 was also full of cases of loss of revenue through exemptions, other government agencies or departments frustrating others like Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) and Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) increase their ability to collect revenue.

Kabwe gave an example of increasing cases of tax exemptions which denied the country close to 2trn/- during 2011/12 fiscal year which has prompted his committee to request Controller and Auditor General start auditing such exemptions annually starting last year.

"Tax exemptions for the year ended 2011/12 increased by 789,883,259,827/- or an equivalent of 78 per cent from 1,016,320,300,000/- which were granted in 2010/11 to 1,806,203,559,827/- during 2011/12," the Kigoma North MP, noted.

The PAC report unveiled that exemptions given by the government this fiscal year were an equivalent of 13 per cent of the 2011/12 budget of over 13.5trn/- "Had these exemptions not been granted which is an equivalent to 27 per cent of all revenue collected, gross revenue collected during the year would have been over 8.5trn/- instead of 6.7trn/- which was the actual collection," Kabwe noted.

Kabwe further noted that despite repeated objection by parliament, the executive has continued to grant exemption to private businesses and charitable organisations which peaked 4.3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).

"The committee has agreed with CAG that effective 2012/13 season, there will be auditing of the exemptions annually to establish if they are properly granted," he noted. In another case, Kabwe said Weights and Measures Agency (WMA) ordered suspension of use of flow metres for fuel import duty collection at Dar es Salaam and Tanga ports following complaints by importers that the metres were faulty hence imposing big tax bills to them.

"Controller and Auditor General's report of 2010/11 inquired reasons behind the suspension of the flow metres at Dar es Salaam and Tanga ports which is causing losses to the government," the fiery legislator argued. The flow metres which are property of Tanzania Ports Authority were installed at Kurasini Oil Jetty in 2004 and started working in 2005 until 2011 when WMA ordered TPA to stop using them because importers were complaining of being overcharged import duty.

Currently, TPA is using deepsticks to determine the volume of oil in a tanker which many MPs translated as irresponsible behaviour by some corrupt senior executives in government agencies. "The Committee has ordered TPA to give us a report showing the difference when volume of oil is measured by deep-stick and the flow metres," Kabwe noted.

Mr Chenge's report was not different from the other committees, paltry allocation of funds to key ministries, delays in disbursements hence affecting implementation of development projects. The newly created Parliamentary Budget Committee, Chairman told parliament that three key ministries received less than 50 per cent of their budgetary allocations by early this month.

"Ministry of water is still facing challenges relating to funding for development projects although it was given additional 184.5bn/-," Chenge noted. He pointed out that one of the biggest challenges facing the ministry which is one of the Big Results Now (BRN) implementing ministries, is receiving development funds on time.

He said an example is that till last October, the ministry planned to spend 155.9bn/- of which 86.4bn/- is from domestic sources and 69.5bn/- is from external sources.

"In addition, funds meant for the first quarter of the year was disbursed during the second half of the year 2013/14 and the amount of money received was 161.7bn/- of which 86bn/- was from domestic sources and 75.7bn/- was from external sources," he pointed out.

Chenge said Treasury disbursement to Ministry of Agriculture was much lower with 24bn/- of the 81.04bn/- received during the period which is an average of 29.2 per cent of the development projects budget. "Only 16,904,168,473/- or about 71.3 per cent of the money received has been used.

The expenditure has been small because money was released at the end of last October," the Bariadi East (CCM) lawmaker said. Things were similarly bad for Ministry of Energy and Minerals which only received over 311.7bn/- for development projects which is an equivalent of 26 per cent of the budget approved by parliament for 2013/14 season.

"Documentary evidence shows that during a period covering July-November 2013, the ministry received over 367.9bn/- or about 29 per cent of its budget allocation approved by parliament," the Budget Committee Chairman said. Overall, Treasury released only 581.7bn/- or about 11 per cent of the budget allocation while subventions to local authorities was only 115.19bn/- which is an equivalent of 17 per cent.

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