Members of Parliament have urged government to increase its expenditure on development from the current 30 percent to 40 percent and while at it, to address all loopholes especially what they see as excessive tax exemptions.
They argued that these massive tax breaks contradict the governments need to raise its income.
Tanga Urban legislator, Omar Nundu (CCM) insisted that the budget has to address development issues. Citing action taken by countries like Korea, Indonesia and Taiwan, Nundu maintained the need to ‘emulate these Asian countries’ which he said had developed their economies through the establishment of various development projects.
On a different topic, Nundu, who is the former Transport Minister, also recommended that the government review allowances granted to senior government officials traveling abroad since it is a burden to the taxpayers. Currently, they are paid USD 500 per diem.
From travel to salary rates for government employees, Nundu saw the current pay as excessive and unhealthy for the country’s development.
“…how can a public service personnel get paid a salary equivalent to that of 100 of his employees?” he queried.
Public-Private Partnership is a government initiative launched in 2010 aimed at increasing cooperation between the public and private sector, the MP pointed out, saying it is time for the government to fast track its implementation in order to bring development.
Pauline Gekul, Special Seats (Chadema) reiterated the MPs’ call to have a drastic reduction in tax exemptions. “Last year alone, goods and services worth over 1.6trn/- were exempted from tax…this is a shame to our nation.”
She called for an increase in development expenditure giving as an example some 700bn/- allocated to district councils for development projects which she called ‘insufficient’ given the said areas population which she referred to as ‘many people’.
The Kasulu legislator, Moses Machali (NCCR Mageuzi) asked the Finance Minister to explain why a big part of last year’s development projects have not been implemented and then moved back to recommendations advising the government to create incentives that will encourage mining companies to operate efficiently and attract even more investment.
John Cheyo Bariadi (UDP) said he found the budget unsatisfactory and offered what he believes caused this shortcoming, “…budget formation was not participatory and had neither public input nor that of the members of Parliament.”
Leticia Nyerere, special seats (Chadema) too had some recommendations for the government. “…increase alternative sources of energy such as wind and gas to fight the persistent power shortages.
David Silinde Mbozi West (Chadema) wondered why Tanzania has failed to develop its water sector while there are a lot of rivers and lakes. He gave Libya and Egypt as examples noting these are desert countries yet almost 80 percent of their population has access to clean water.
Modestus Kilufi, Mbarali (CCM) claimed the budget has nothing to offer herdsmen, and farmers and seconding Kigoma-South legislator David Kafulila (NCCR Mageuzi) who called increased spending in agriculture.
Other house members set conditions to be met by the government if it hopes for their support in approving the proposed budget, which in the opinion of Special legislator Ester Bulaya (CCM) is “…not realistic since it does not offer answers to the ordinary people…”and for that reason, “…I will not support the budget unless I receive detailed explanations on various development issues.
Meanwhile Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Job Ndugai yesterday ordered Ubungo legislator John Mnyika (Chadema) out of the debating chamber after his failure to heed a directive to withdraw his statement that President Jakaya Kikwete’s leadership is weak. He was ordered to stay out until this morning when MPs resume business.
The Deputy speaker informed him that he was in violation of section 73 (2) of the Parliamentary Standing Orders which restricts MPS from to using abusive language during proceedings and further grants the Speaker powers to send out any MPs not in compliance.
Earlier debating on the budget estimates the MP said this year’s budget would not meet people’s expectations because it was very similar to last year’s which, in his opinion, did not do much for the people.
Mnyika gave an example that while last year Parliament allocated 600bn/- for the water sector but only 192bn/- have been implemented so far.
Speaking outside the Parliament Mnyika pointed out articles 90 and 99 of the country’s constitution that apparently give the President ‘a lot of power’ on budget matters.
He used his interpretation of the said articles as grounds to refer to the budget as, ‘the President’s budget’ and for that reason in his view, then the country has been given an unrealistic budget as a result of the President’s weakness!
Mnyika, expounding on yet another article, 90 (2) (b) of the Constitution that apparently grants the president power to dissolve the House in the event that parliament refused to endorse it hence he maintained that “…even though the MPs will debate the budget but at the end of the day they have to endorse it because if they don’t do so the Parliament will be dissolved.”.