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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

MPs: Too many budget priorities

18th March 2011
Finance Minister, Mustapha Mkulo

Members of Parliament yesterday criticised the government for setting too many budget priorities for the coming financial year, saying this would not help promote economic growth in the country.

They were reacting to the 12 priorities outlined in a manual for preparing government plan and expenditure for the coming financial year tabled at the MPs seminar in Dar es Salaam by Finance Minister, Mustapha Mkulo indicating 11,970.4bn/- as pre- budget estimates for the coming financial year.

The legislators expressed concern that the outlined priorities were too many to be efficiently implemented given the current state of the economy.

The priority areas are education, agriculture, livestock and fisheries, energy, infrastructure development and industrial development.

Others are health, water, lands, housing and settlements, human resource development, science and technology, financial services and cross cutting issues.

Bariadi West Member of Parliament Andrew Chenge (CCM) said the government should select a few priorities which will be included in the five-year strategic development plan to make an impact on the economy.

“It is not that other priorities are of less importance, but the government should focus on areas which will promote growth of the economy,” he said.

Chenge proposed the priorities as infrastructure, water, education, agriculture and health.

Wawi legislator Hamad Rashid (CUF) said the budget priorities outlined do not correspond with the five-year strategic development plan (2011/12-2015/2016).

He called on the government to be focused in selecting priorities which would help to boost the country’s economy, recommending education, energy, agriculture and infrastructure as crucial economic drivers.

Rashid however, stressed discipline in decision making by holding accountable government officials who fail to implement government decisions.

A Member of Parliament for Ilala, Mussa Zungu (CCM) said the government should direct agricultural efforts to regions which receive sufficient rains to produce enough food for internal consumption and a surplus to sell outside the country.

“Currently, ‘Kilimo Kwanza’ is about power tillers …this is a plan for a few people …there are so many things to be done for the realisation of the initiative including investing in irrigation …the problem is not rain, it is about water management,” Zungu insisted.

Singida East MP Tundu Lissu (Chadema) said the budget priorities were not effectively implemented, citing last year’s budget for education whereby only 30bn/- out of 55bn/- was set aside for secondary and primary schools.

Nzega Member of Parliament Dr Hamis Kigwangwalla (CCM) said priorities should not exceed five for the country to build a self reliant economy.

He said the first priority should be stabilising energy followed by improvement of port infrastructure. The third priority should be boosting agriculture by investing in irrigation rather than power tillers and tractors.

The legislator for Mbozi –West Godfrey Zambi (CCM) said the budget plan should take into account the promises made by the president during the election campaigns such as provision of water, roads and energy to maintain public trust.

He also noted that the budget should consider the Abuja declaration on health that the budget should be 15 per cent and Maputo declaration which requires member countries to set aside 10 per cent of the budget for agriculture and one per cent for human resources development.

Meanwhile, Minister Mkulo told the MPs that there will be a deficit of 510,417m/- in this year’s budget (2010/11) according to a government review.

He also said there will be an increase of 180,000m/- comprising salaries for the 9,226 newly employed secondary school and college teachers and salary increases for other public servants.

Mkulo said the government will be forced to slash the government expenditure budget by 510,417m/- to close the gap, explaining that 272,000m/- will be recovered from various charges of the Consolidated Fund and interest payments, while 238,417m/- will be deducted from various votes.

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