Issue of cost of Kyerwa’s Tanesco complex is yet another eye-opener

22Sep 2021
The Guardian
Issue of cost of Kyerwa’s Tanesco complex is yet another eye-opener

LEADING officials at the public power supply monopoly, Tanesco, must have had a nasty moment on Monday when Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa refused to inaugurate the firm’s office complex in Kyerwa District, Kagera Region.

The PM’s reaction was on account of the construction costs being visibly too high relative to the quality and overall nature of the structures he was shown. It was all on a matter of principle.

Anyone listening to Tanesco officials would easily get the idea that they actually knew there was a problem. For, otherwise, how is it explained that the implementation of the project was begun on September 11, 2018 and completed February 8, 2020 but the prime minister is being asked to inaugurate it a whole one and half years later?

The stated cost of 483.4m/-, as affirmed by a senior official from the Tanesco headquarters who read the construction report, indicates that the matter was widely known and was not just district level blundering.

On the basis of what the premier said, that the 500m/- or so spent on the spot is sufficient to build a fairly complex health centre, it can be said that the work did not have to cost above 100m/-. With that, there must have been a “loss” of nearly 400m/- in that project alone.

Yet, if 400m/- is put in a commercial bank as a long- term deposit thereafter loaned out in bits and pieces to individuals who then repay so that others borrow, it could have helped in the development of Kyerwa District.

It will remain really hard fighting corruption under such conditions, as it is evident that there was no push whatsoever on the issue from accounting officials or corruption agencies.

When the public sector (state firms, district authorities, executive agencies) dominates economic activities, it makes it extremely difficult for the leadership to efficiently supervise policy implementation and solving technical problems by enabling dialogue between all the relevant parties.

It takes needlessly long fiddling with figures and false impressions of what this or that building costs, whether or not this list of employees is right or some people are stealing money, etc.

Resistance to further reforms – abandoned in 1996 except for the selling off of the remaining loss- making state firms – is tied to wishing to enjoy the cash trafficking.

The PM stated categorically while on his Kagera region tour that the government intends to build an economy based on individuals, basically meaning small economic ventures.

We tend to think of large sectors like energy, infrastructure and water as naturally in the public sector while, if they were in the private sector, they would elicit bank credit with recovery on the basis of sales of services.

This would cut down the national debt and enable the government to save plenty for improving social services, while rendering it unnecessary for top officials to sniff out corrupt deals every passing day. It is that simple – so let it be done, with full force and without any further delay.