The official opposition in Parliament yesterday unveiled its 15trn/- parallel budget, focusing on spurring rural economic growth at between 6 and 8 per cent to promote development and curb poverty.
Shadow Finance Minister Kabwe Zitto told the National Assembly that the budget includes 11.9trn/- from domestic revenue and 3.2trn/- from General Budget Support. He proposed 9trn/- for recurrent expenditure and 6trn/- for development.
Zitto said that 35 per cent of the domestic revenue would be directed to development activities, as indicated in the 2012-2013 National Development Plan.
Outlining the budget priorities, Zitto said that the opposition proposed 600bn/- to be spent on promoting rural growth by building infrastructure such as roads, electrification, water and irrigation.
He said each sector has been allocated with 150bn/- and the funds would be supervised by a rural development authority to be established under the Prime Minister’s Office.
The second priority is rehabilitation of the central railway and its branches of Tanga/ Arusha and Mpanda whereby a total of 443bn/- would be set aside for Reli Asserts Holding Company to do the work.
“The aim here is to ensure that the central line gets the capacity of transporting 1.5 million tonnes of goods per year and earns the nation up to USD 1.5 billion, instead of only USD 0.5 billion it currently earns.
Other priorities include improving education and health sectors by providing incentives to teachers posted to district councils. “Here, the opposition proposes hardship allowances to teachers, doctors and nurses of up to one and a half times of their salaries,” Zitto said.
The budget also proposed an increment of minimum wage for public servants to 315,000/- per month, to build capacity of local industries to add value to agricultural and livestock products sold outside the country.
The opposition also proposed allocation of 200bn/- for the establishment of Mtwara University for Petroleum Studies to enable the country to have enough gas and oil experts.
Zitto faulted the government for failing to cut tax exemptions to one per cent, as it pledged in its 2011/2012budget. On the contrary, he said, the government in its current budget proposal “has continued to make impractical pledge of minimising tax exemptions” instead of telling the public how far it has gone in addressing the problem.
He further faulted the government for failure to control inflation, saying that despite steps it has taken, the situation has worsened after inflation rose from 6.3 per cent in the year 2010/11 to an average of 17.8 in the 2011/12 fiscal year.
“The government has not only failed to control inflation, but also measures being taken have also increased the cost of living,” Zitto stressed.
He blamed the government for outlining similar measures in addressing inflation in its 2012/13 budget, including issuing permits to traders to import rice and sugar which he said did not work in the current budget.
According to Zitto, the only solution to the problem of inflation was increasing food production by investing in local people. “The government’s idea of increasing food production by supporting big agricultural investors who will turn our people into labourers in their own country is not a positive move,” he noted.
Zitto rejected the government proposal of imposing more taxes on airtime, saying that it will affect ordinary citizens. Alternatively, he proposed that telecommunication companies should pay appropriate taxes.
“The telecommunication companies do not pay enough tax, especially corporate taxes, and they also don’t disclose their revenue, which has forced the Parastatal Organisations Accounts Committee to direct TCRA [Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority] to install a system which will enable it to track revenue earned by each company.
Last week the government unveiled its 15trn/- budget for the year 2012/2013, in which 10.5tn/- has been set aside for recurrent expenditure and 4.5trn/- for development.