The government tables its 2012/2013 proposed budget in the National Assembly today amid calls for stringent measures to cut inflation, prioritise projects and infrastructure improvement to speed up national development.
The government has projected to spend 15trn/- an increase of 1.5trn/- compared to 13.5trn/- budgeted for the 2011/2012 financial year.
Already Members of Parliament have started submitting their names to the Speaker of the National Assembly to be lined up among those who will make contributions after the budget speech is read, a move deputy Speaker Job Ndugai informed the House yesterday was contrary to Parliamentary Standing Orders.
He said according to the Orders the names were supposed to be submitted after the budget has been tabled.
“I therefore declare that the applications submitted to the office of the Speaker are null and void and advise the MPs to start submitting their applications tomorrow (today) after the budget is tabled,” Ndugai said.
Interviewed on budget expectations, people called on the government to economically empower common people and reduce recurrent expenditures to boost development projects implementation which are likely to create jobs.
Hussein Kamote Director of Policy and Advocacy, Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) said immediate measures must be taken to cut down inflation so as to control escalating food prices, adding that the best way is for the government to avoid increasing taxes especially on petroleum products.
He said enough budgets should be injected into development projects instead of recurrent expenditure which benefits few people.
“The government should either reduce taxes or maintain current rates to control commodity prices”, he noted.
Kamote also said priorities must be given to roads, railways, ports and power to facilitate industrial operations in order to create jobs.
In the 2011/2012 budget, funds allocated for recurrent expenditures were 8.6trn/- while development projects were given 4.9trn/- of which 1.8trn/- was from internal sources and 3trn/- from development partners.
Secretary of the All-Africa Students Union (Education and Students Rights) Mathias Kipala said the government has to invest in education and agriculture that would benefit the majority.
He said most of the agricultural strategies like ‘Kilimo Kwanza’ are yet to benefit majority Tanzanians. He said the sector is likely to develop and can create more job opportunities taking into consideration the increasing number of graduates.
“Agriculture employs about 80 percent of the population, yet it is given little priority. It is the only sector that can bring development to the majority”, he said.
In the previous budget, a total of 926bn/- was allocated for agriculture, a slight increase of 2.5 percent compared to 903bn/- in 2010/2011. Education was given 2, 283bn/- while in the 2010/2011 fiscal year it was given 2, 045bn/-.
Kipala suggested for more funds to be allocated on education especially students in higher learning institutions and a review of loan conditions to enable more students access loans.
On power he said the government should ensure implementation of Stigler’s Gorge and look for cost effective alternative power sources.
Angelina Mkelemo, a resident of Ukonga in Dar es Salaam called upon the government to ensure businessmen do not hike commodity prices as many of them do so at the start of the new financial year.
She said it is not fair for the government to increase tax which leads to high goods prices. She added: “We don’t expect to see increased prices this year… there is a tendency for the government to announce new prices for cheap products instead of looking for other good revenue sources.”
John Magafu from Menonite Church of Tanzania called for injection of more funds into education since it is the pillar of the country’s development. He said less investment in education would result into uncivilized nation, and most of the job opportunities would be grabbed by foreigners.
“It should be a common man’s budget”, said Magafu.
Chairman of the Constitution Forum, Deus Kibamba said the budget must be directed to areas like infrastructure, health, power and education. He said it is important to come up with alternative power sources to ensure reliable services.
Kibamba called on the government to reduce recurrent expenditures and set more funds for development projects. He said recurrent expenditures end up in purchasing new vehicles, seminars, allowances and hospitality which are enjoyed by a small group of people.
“Allocating more funds to recurrent expenditures fuels embezzlement at the district level”, he said.
He also advised the government to formulate a system that will enable evaluation of previous budgets before planning for new ones. “We must budget more realistically”, he noted.
Policy Forum Chairman, Israel Ilunde said in the fiscal year ending this month, over 70 percent of the budget was used for recurrent expenditures while development projects were given less priority.
Ilunde challenged the government not to allocate money for projects that don’t benefit the majority.
In the previous budget, 539bn/- was allocated for energy, an increase of 65 percent from 327bn/- in 2010/2011. Health sector was given 1, 209bn/- from 1, 205bn/- in 2010/2011.