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Empower citizens to sue embezzlers - MP

23rd April 2012
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Kisesa legislator Luhaga Joelson Mpina

Kisesa legislator Luhaga Joelson Mpina plans to ask the National Assembly to endorse amendments to the law so that ordinary citizens can institute legal action against public figures misusing public funds.

Speaking to journalists here yesterday, the lawmaker said his motion originates from the reports of the Controller and Auditor General on the manner of spending and loss of public funds after being authorised by the Parliament.

“Current financial laws do not have enough powers to protect, monitor and control utilisation of national resources,” said the MP.

He said the whole process of the budget needs to be transparent and MPs, councillors and the public all need to know to know how the taxpayers’ money was being spent.

“If this is done then it will be easy to follow up and control public funds. But for this to be successful there must be an independent auditing institution,” he said, implying that the office of the controller and auditor general was not independent.

Mpina said Tanzania for a long time has been an example of countries that are mentioned for poor utiliasation of public funds. According to the Global Financial Integrity report of 2008 it has been named 13th out of 20 countries that lead in taking public money outside the country to the tune of 11trillion shillings between 1977 and 2008.

“The president has also said that 33 percent of government budget each year ends up in people’s pockets through corruption in public procurement,” said the MP.

He said there is no correlation between penalties given to people and the amounts of misappropriated public funds.

“According to the Public Finance Act of 2001 if a civil servant causes loss to the government, he or she will be responsible in accordance with public officers (Recovery of Debts) acts of 1970 and will be charged to pay 25 per cent of his or her salary every month,” said Mpina.

He said the section was weak because it never considered the loss suffered by the government. “And we have heard of he losses as reported by CAG,” said Mpina.

The MP also pointed out the weakness in article 44 (1-2) of the act and the article 67 of the local government finance act of 1982, saying: “These laws are too weak. They require a person to pay between 50,000/- and 500,000/- or be jailed six months to 2 years. What is needed is for the person who has committed an offence to be pay all the money in cash or be bankrupted,” said the legislator.

He blamed authorities for not taking serious measures against the culprits as the laws state.

He also said parliament had not been giving enough time to discuss the CAG reports which reveal the misappropriation of public funds.

“We sit for 55 days from June every year, discussing the budget in the House, but we give just a few days to debate the way the public funds have been spent. Is this fair? asked Mpina, adding: “Worse still the timeframe to discuss the CAG report is set by the Parliamentary Leadership committee and it is spelt out clearly that they will plan the time as deemed appropriate by them,” he said.

According to him, the time allotted to debating the CAG report and those of the parastatal, public and local government accounts committees must be spelt out in the parliamentary standing orders.

The MP suggested amendment of three laws to enable among others ordinary citizens to have powers to send to court public figures who have misappropriated public funds.

He wants the office of Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to be free in performing its duties contrary to the current situation when it is controlled by the government.

The MP wants the CAG’s reports to be used as evidence in court and police and other organisations to investigate only categorised offences that according to CAG need more investigations.

“We need changes on the Financial Act no 15 of 2010, article 27 (2) to enable the CAG, an institution or an individual person to file charges in court against a public officer who has misappropriated public money,” he said.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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