Dons,activists highlight strengths,grey areas in2022/23 nationalbudged

28Jun 2022
Daniel Semberya
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Dons,activists highlight strengths,grey areas in2022/23 nationalbudged

LAST week, the National Assembly endorsed 41.46trn/- national budget after three months of debate by legislators in Dodoma. Tanzanians now wait for its implementation to the letter and enjoy the goodies it promises.

Dr Lihoya Anthony, Economist and Lecturer at Mzumbe University, speaks during post national budget dialogue which took place at TGNP-Mtandao headquarters in Dar es Salaam last week. Photo courtesy of TGNP

Some scholars and activists have commented on it with good words on some aspects as well as cautions on some areas that needed improvement for the betterment and common good of all Tanzanians.

Contributing on economic justice during the post national budget dialogue at TGNP-Mtandao headquarters in Dar es Salaam last week, an Economist and a Lecturer at Mzumbe University Dr Lihoya Anthony applauded the government for tabling a gender-sensitive budget.

She said economic rights can be attained when every citizen gets the opportunity to possess and utilise resources available for their own and national developments and those opportunities need to be equal for women and men so that both can develop.

“This year’s budget at least has tried to cover three main objectives namely to build the economy, poverty alleviation and unemployment, especially to the youth,” she said.

For instance, she said that the government has increased the agriculture budget from 294bn/- to 954bn/- so as to among others, increase the involvement of many farmers in irrigation and cut overreliance in rain-fed agriculture.

The academic argued that in order to liberate citizens economically, the government through the agriculture sector aims at increasing over 3 million jobs for youth by 2025 in order to reduce unemployment.

“All these initiatives by the government are an indication that the government has committed to addressing poverty and unemployment to its citizenry,” she said.

On business issues, Dr Anthony said that the government intends to establish eight youth incubation centers starting with 1,000 beneficiaries who will work to fatten cattle and sell the same to the meat processing factories in the country.

“This is an indication that the government wants to ensure young girls and boys get their economic rights through sustainable employment opportunities,” she said.

Dr Idd Mziray, Gender and Adolescence Initiative (GAI) Executive Director said that gender sensitive budget needs to establish and respond to the needs of all groups of people in the country.

Commenting on the agriculture sector, he said that 69.9 per cent of the workforce in agriculture is women but since most women in the community don’t own land, he suggested that the government needs to ensure women, like men, are enabled to own land because 80 per cent of them work on land.

As a way of addressing unemployment in the country, he said that constructing irrigation infrastructure, including the planned construction of dams for harvesting rainwater, is commendable because they will be used in irrigation schemes in regions where there are no lakes and big rivers, Dodoma being one of them.

Dr Respicius Shumbusho, Political Science and Public Administration Lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, also commended the government for its strategy for reducing cost of living and strengthening productive sectors, saying this will mostly benefit women, youth and vulnerable groups that are left behind in the national development.

Commenting on the government’s plan to improve working conditions for hawkers, popularly known as machinga, Shumbusho said it is a good idea but he was quick to note that the government is currently missing evidence on who is really a machinga. To him, a real machinga does not need a loan.

To get data in this matter, he urged the government to commission the University of Dar es Salaam or any other reputable higher learning institution to do a thorough research to set standards on who is really a machinga and how many are they in the country before injecting that any money into their development.

He cautioned that if boundaries are not existent or blurred, a big businessman can decide to turn into a small businessman or a machinga with the intention of benefiting from the revolving fund set by the government.

Tabling the budget estimates, Minister for Finance and Planning Dr Mwigulu Nchemba said the government will scale up small-scale irrigation schemes across the country by constructing irrigation infrastructure, including the construction of dams for harvesting rainwater and use available water bodies like lakes Victoria, Tanganyika and Nyasa as well as permanent large rivers like Malagarasi, Ruvuma, Rufiji, Mara, Pangani and Ruvu.

“This will be done through expanding the irrigation area to 8,500,000 hectares equivalent to 50 per cent of the total area cultivated in the country by 2030,” he said.

Furthermore, Dr Nchemba said that the government aims at increasing the number of large-scale farms from 110 in 2020 to 10,000 in 2030, focusing on commercializing oil palm and sunflower farming.

In this endeavor, the government encourages transformation from small to large scale farming with the minister urging farmers in Kigoma, Tabora, Katavi, Coast, Geita and Kagera regions to amalgamate their small farms into plantations to ease construction of irrigation infrastructure.

Dr Nchemba said that the government will heavily subsidize agriculture input including fertilizers, farming equipment, pesticides and quality seeds as well as supporting irrigation farming.

The subsidies will increase fertilizer production whereby special treatment will be given to local fertilizer industries with zero rated VAT for locally produced fertilizers.

“Government is taking these measures to reduce the cost of living and provide relief to Tanzanians. I urge the business community not to take advantage of the prevailing crisis at the expense of the citizens in order to earn more profit as subsidies are meant for citizens and not companies,” he said.

Dr Nchemba added that the government is going to identify, allocate, supervise, protect and enable small scale traders as one of the key drivers of economic growth.

“The government is making all these efforts to implement President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s intention to improve the business environment. Further, the government will continue to identify and link them with financial institutions to access affordable loans, and will continue to allocate areas and construct enabling infrastructure for doing business,” he said.

The President has pledged 10mn/- for each region for strengthening hawkers’ leadership, including construction of their offices.

The minister said that the government has allocated 45bn/- for infrastructure and capital provision to the machinga whereby each region needs to have 1bn/- revolving fund for the machinga.

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