19 April 2017

Tanzania: Over Sh5.7 Billion 'Lost to Double Payments'

Dodoma — The Opposition said yesterday that the government was misusing Sh5.76 billion annually due to double payments made to district executive directors (DEDs) and regional administrative secretaries (RASs).

Mr Japhary Michael (Moshi Urban-Chadema), who is the opposition spokesman for the President's Office (Regional Administration and Local Government), said that when the new government came to power it appointed new DEDs and RASs, shunting aside over 120 officials previously holding the positions.

"But RAS, DED and district administrative secretary are not political positions, and when one is removed it doesn't mean that their salaries are stopped. The 120 officials who previously held the posts were directed to report to RASs for new responsibilities and for almost a year now they have been hanging around without being assigned any duties," Mr Michael said when delivering the Opposition's alternative budget speech.

"They continue to receive salaries and other benefits like housing, electricity, airtime and medical cover. Since the salaries of DEDs range from Sh3.8 million to Sh4 million, the monthly cost is Sh480 million, which translates into Sh5.76 billion annually.

"The government must explain this anomaly," he said.

Meanwhile, the Opposition spokesperson for the President's Office (Public Service Management and Good Governance), Ms Ruth Mollel, expressed concern about what she termed as violation of the principle of neutrality and impartiality in public service.

She said 65 of the 195 people appointed as DEDs were unsuccessful aspirants in the 2015 General Election through CCM.

"This kind of appointment politicises the civil service and kills professionalism. It sows the seeds of discrimination in civil service based on political affiliation. What if another political party takes over the government? These people are supposed to be neutral and the government must explain this," Ms Mollel said.

She also voiced concern about a sharp decrease in the number of women appointed to key decision-making positions, adding that the current government had fewer female appointees than the previous one.

Ms Mollel said while previously women comprised 33.3 per cent of the Cabinet, they currently form only 21.1 per cent and 10 per cent of permanent secretaries.

For its part, the parliamentary Committee on Regional Administration and Local Government asked the government to consider reinstating property tax to 30 district councils which, it added, were seriously affected by its transfer to the central government.

Finance and Planning minister Philip Mpango said when tabling the 2016/17 budget last year that the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) would take over from local governments the responsibility of collecting property tax.

He noted that the move was aimed at maximising revenue collected from the booming housing sector.

However, the committee said 30 councils had been seriously affected by the decision.

The committee also advised the government to allow local authorities to deduct 30 per cent of land taxes before they submit the funds to the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development.

"Experience has shown that the ministry is not remitting the money. They should also be allowed to deduct 25 per cent of taxes collected from forest services before sending them to the central government," said committee chairman Jason Rweikiza.

The committee also advised the government to release money for development expenditure on time to avoid delays in implementation of projects.

It also asked the government to employ more health workers for local authorities and increase the number of health facilities.

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