With only 11 days to go before Parliament resumes for the Budget Session starting June 12, legislators have expressed concern over the delay in receiving the budget books for the 2012/13 financial year.
Members said failure to provide them with the budget books on time undermined parliament’s capability and authority to supervise the government effectively.
According to Article 96 of the Parliamentary Standing Orders (2007 Edition), the MPs are supposed to have received copies of government budget estimates at least 21 days before resumption of the parliamentary budget session.
Speaking during an interview with this paper, Vunjo MP Augustine Mrema said after the recent cabinet reshuffle, he expected the books to have been availed to the MPs for them to go through thoroughly.
“You are aware that we recently witnessed the cabinet reshuffle and now we have the new Finance Minister. This minister requires to be acquainted with budget matters. We expected to have received the books on good so that we can go through them thoroughly,” he said.
For his part, Singida East MP Tundu Lissu said it was a big mistake to delay the budget books because if by now the books have not been distributed, it means the government wanted to force the MPs to pass important issues without going through them thoroughly.
“I am sure this is a government plan to make the MPs pass important issues without discussing them well,” he claimed.
He said the aim was to weaken the effectiveness of the parliament and failing members of the public.
The MPs said they would not get enough time to read, understand and analyse the budget books before approving them as they often contained inflated figures, which had to be looked at critically.
They urged the government to urgently avail the MPs with the 2012/13 budget books volumes I-IV and MTEFs for individual ministries, departments and agencies (individual MDAs) to enable them to read, analyse them and consult different stakeholders with a view to making informed decisions.
When contacted by this paper yesterday, National Assembly Speaker Anna Makinda distanced herself from the delay, saying it was not her responsibility and asked the reporter to contact the national assembly clerk.
“Go and ask the Clerk of the National Assembly, who will give you right answers,” she said.
The Clerk could not be reached but the Director of Parliamentary Business John Joel said his office received the books yesterday and they were ready for distribution to the MPs.
“You, journalist, do you know the rules? Who told you that the MPs are supposed to receive the books 21 days before the session?” he queried.
After reading to him the relevant clause requiring the government to distribute the books to the MPs 21 days before the budget session, he quickly said there was no problem and although the books came late, the MPs would receive them.
“OK! I am telling you that we received them today and they are ready for distribution to the MPs and procedures have been complied with,” he said in a softer tone.