Government must sort out public sector insurance shambles

25Nov 2018
Dar es Salaam
Guardian On Sunday
Government must sort out public sector insurance shambles

PRECISELY what ought to be done to ensure that public sector property is insured has remained a perplexing issue for decades and it now appears incapable of being resolved, even in a straight talk government like the one we have at present.

Matters came to a head as to the state of confusion when this newspaper reported in an economic issues supplement that the National Insurance Corporation only insures Air Tanzania Co. Ltd planes, and “has no knowledge where other vehicles are insured.”
And while this was still being digested, it was reaffirmed that the NIC will on no circumstance be privatised.

This situation is not a healthy one for the government as top Treasury officials say that the government pays a lot of money from its budgetary coffers as its properties, including vehicles, aren’t insured, an aspect of things that the public, or experts, thought augurs well for privatising the NIC.

What the Treasury seems to be suggesting is that the NIC will be boosted with plenty of funds so that it can conduct the task, but that track stops halfway when its wider logic is closely examined.

It is unlikely that the Treasury wishes to issue money so that the NIC pays those suing public sector entities, that they face no troubles.

One aspect that comes up is that there is no direct ‘win-win’ situation for the government or the Treasury when it comes to insurance, and experience has demonstrated that the public sector is incapable of running a proper insurance as it doesn’t want, and can’t be trusted, to play fairly with private claimants.

In that case the idea that the NIC will not be privatized means that the status quo shall endure, and as the Treasury noted of late, the government continues to lose money because its vehicles and other properties are not insured. This too needs to have a solution and not just a better and optimal NIC operational model.

The remarks by the Treasury official implied that the government will lose less cash when it insures its vehicles than when it leaves the chaos of non-insurance to persist, meanwhile as it wants to stick with the NIC as a public sector insurance wing.

There is an impression somewhere that this refusal to proceed with reform of the NIC arose from being comfortable with the present situation, namely that only ATCL needs to have viable insurance in order to conduct its business, while the Treasury or whichever responsible department plays hide and seek with claims arising from non-insurance. If it is still ideal, leave it at that.

Yet as the current team in office has demonstrated in other matters, it wishes to conduct state business in a credible and where possible, transparent manner, so that everyone knows where they stand in relation to the law and policies generally.

Being predictable is a precondition of being able to transact, to agree with another person on a business or repartition of duties and expect that they will be carried out.

Refusing to privatise the NIC implies that top advisers still wish that the government makes revenue out of insurance but they know intensely enough that it is never likely to make profits in so doing. Why hesitate to reform?

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