Winding up debate on the 114.8trn/- third Five Year Development Plan (FYDP-III) the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Officer (Investment) Geoffrey Mwambe said the government is willing to proceed with the project if contentious terms are altered.
“If they are able to change some of the conditions, we are ready to move on with implementation of the project,” he said.
This means the ball is now in the court of China Merchants Holdings, the Far East company that was slated to construct the port and adjoining infrastructure, he said, hinting that if the parties meet and reach an agreement this time round, the multi-billion project would result in the largest deep-water port in Africa.
The project was initially agreed upon in 2013, the year that Chinese President Xi Jinping took office and visited Tanzania as his first itinerary in Africa, but the terms of the agreement remained a point of contention in high government circles and were completely rejected by fifth phase President John Magufuli.
In June 2019 the president suspended the project and opted for expansion of three other ports on the seashore, namely Dar es Salaam, Tanga and Mtwara.
Responding to MPs debating the development plan, the Minister of State in the President’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Governments) Ummy Mwalimu said that the government will continue pursuing several strategies to improve the provision of services in education and health sectors.
There is at present a deficit of one million desks in primary and secondary schools countrywide, she stated, affirming that in the next fiscal year the government will purchase 700,000 desks to curb the gap and improve the learning and teaching environment.
The government is also examining measures to extend special incentives for teachers and medical staff countrywide in rural areas, to encourage them to deliver best in classes and health centres, she said.
Dr Dorothy Gwajima, the Minister for Health, said that the government will table a bill on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in the current session.
“We are finalising the draft and will table it in this session,” she said, elaborating that it aims at further strengthening the provision of health services by ensuring that every Tanzanian has access to quality and affordable medical services.
Prof Kitila Mkumbo, the Minister for Industry and Trade said the government is working to come up with a business facilitation law so as to stimulate trade and investment in the country.
Earlier, while debating the bill, MPs urged the government to ensure that the strategic plan priorities are fully implemented to attain intended goals.
Cesilia Paresso (Special Seats, Chadema) urged the government to ensure to form a specialised team to drum up awareness countrywide to change people’s mindsets on healthy life styles so as to fight chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
The government must not only think of higher medical care budgets but rather focus on preventive measures to rescue people from exposure to diseases.
Increasing awareness on NCDs and associated risk factors, promoting healthy lifestyles and community involvement, with individuals taking responsibility for own health was the best path, she stated.
Jaffar Chege (Rorya) advised the government to invest heavily in land surveying and planning to add its value and increase revenue collection from it.