23 February 2018

East Africa: Magufuli's Dos and Don'ts Tips

PRESIDENT John Magufuli yesterday volunteered tips to fellow East African Heads of State, saying unless governments in the region cultivated a judicious financial expenditure culture, donor dependency would never end.

Speaking during the 19th EAC Heads of State summit and retreat in the Ugandan capital Kampala, he outlined key factors that should be borne in mind for the best way forward, and to avoid being taken for a ride.

Execution of infrastructure development projects and health sector financing by the bloc, were amongareas on which he lay much emphasis. The President said the governments must craft good strategies for effective revenue collection, and ensure that every cent was spent judiciously.

He advised stakeholders in the EAC integration project, including the Secretariat and leaders, to focus more attention on resultoriented actions instead of wasting much valuable time at political platforms.

Citing experiences from the home front, he explained that effective revenue collection strategies had enabled the government to raise funds for the execution of various projects, including the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza and the Stiegler's Gorge power generation plant. "I already have the funds for Stiegler's power project.

What is pending is the processing of tendering procedures. All is set for the Dar es Salaam-Mwanza SGR project," the President told the audience. "If our EA partner states can effectively collect revenue and spend it wisely, I am confident that we will be able to finance several projects without depending on financial support from development partners,"

the President remarked as fellow top leaders and other people in attendance listened attentively. He said as a result of improved revenue collection, the health sector budget had been increased from 31bn/- in 2015/2016 financial year to 269bn/- in the 2017/2018 current one.

He was prompted to offer his experience in projects implementation in the wake of reports of a slow pace in the execution of regional infrastructure projects agreed on by the bloc's leaders in 2014.

The President asked the EAC Secretariat and other stakeholders to work seriously on infrastructure projects implementation challenges first, instead of coming up with a list of new ones.

"When you met in 2014, when I wasn't even the President, you drew up a list of projects to be implemented but only 14 of them have been executed. Have you established why haven't reached your targets?" President Magufuli queried.

The President asked fellow leaders to exercise much caution on financial assistance from development partners, pointing out that strings were attached to the assistance, consequently placing a heavy burden on taxpayers.

"Yes, we need development partners. Yes, we need to embrace Public-Private Partnership (PPP). But, sometimes strings are attached to aid and private sector operators are always after maximizing profits in the projects," he remarked.

He challenged fellow leaders to find out why power generation and ICT costs were so high in Africa than in developed nations. President Magufuli said besides the continent losing a lot in revenue collection, Africa was losing trillions of shillings in illicit financial flows.

The 2015 report by the African Union's high level panel on illicit financial flows (IFFs) led by former South Africa President Thabo Mbeki showed that the continent was losing $150 billion every year in illicit financial flows (IFFs).

During the summit, the Heads of State were informed that in the next ten years, East African states would need around $78 billion to finance infrastructure development. Public Private Partnership (PPP) was proposed during the Summit as one of the ways through which such projects should be implemented.

The President asked his colleagues to craft workable plans to facilitate construction of Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) network in the region, to reduce transportation cost

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