JPM: Remove ghost poor in revamped safety net plan

18Feb 2020
Getrude Mbago
The Guardian
JPM: Remove ghost poor in revamped safety net plan

​​​​​​​PRESIDENT John Magufuli has directed local government authorities to team up in executing the second-phase of the Productive Social Safety Net (PSSN) programme and control enrollment of ghost beneficiaries, which remain a thorn in fighting extreme poverty.

Implemented by the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF), the four-year programme is expected to spend a total of 2.032trn/- to reach a total of seven million poor people on both sides of the Zanzibar Channel.

Launching the programme in Dar es Salaam yesterday, Dr Magufuli said the verification exercise conducted from November 2015 to 2017 found a total of 73,561 ghost and illegible households being enrolled in the programme.

“There were people who are not poor including leaders enrolled in the programme. This should be addressed in the next phase,” he cautioned.

He also directed Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner, Paul Makonda to return monies he took from TASAF funds to travel to Dodoma a few years back.

Earlier in his remarks, RC Makonda announced himself to be among TASAF beneficiaries.

“I heard Makonda saying that he is one of the beneficiaries. If this is true, I want him to return all the monies immediately. Authorities should check whether he took the funds so that he reimburses them,” the president intoned.

He commended former presidents Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Benjamin Mkapa and Jakaya Kikwete for initiating various projects aimed at fighting and reducing poverty.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) indicate that basic needs poverty dropped to 26.4 percent in 2017/18 from 39 percent in 1990/91.

“Food poverty is among the major challenge in the world. As per the World Bank, a total of 736 million people are living in extreme poverty globally, and these are the ones living below poverty line. 55 percent of all poor people are living in the African continent which translates that in every three people in Africa, one is poor. It is estimated that if serious measures will not be taken, 90 percent of all poor people will be living Africa by 2030,” Dr Magufuli elaborated.

In efforts to fight poverty in the country, the government has been implementing a number of projects including TASAF.

PSSN II will spend 60 percent of its total budged (1.22trn/-) to implement 30, 000 development projects in the health, education, water and other infrastructures. This way it will generate job places for 1.2m people including those from poor households. The remaining 40 percent will be directed to conditional cash transfer, the president explained.

He commended donors and development partners for their continued support in implementing the programme.

George Mkuchika, the Minister of State in the President’s Office (Public Service and Good Governance), said that implementation of PSSN II will cover poor households in 185 districts. Whereas the previous phase covered 70 percent of villages, the current phase will incorporate the remaining 30 percent, he stated.

It will also focus more in providing poor households with prerequisite entrepreneurship skills and income-earning opportunities to enable them establish small-scale income earning projects for poverty alleviation, he said.

Zanzibar Second Vice President, Ambassador Seif Ali Iddi said the implementation of the programme in the Isles has shown remarkable success and demonstrated to be the most innovative way of reaching and assisting the poor.

The programme has transformed the lives of a large number of poor households in the Isles, he said.

 “Through TASAF III, enrolment of students in primary and secondary schools has increased. There was also improved food security and nutrition at household level due to cash transfer and increased saving behavior among beneficiaries.”

TASAF Executive Director Ladislaus Mwamanga acknowledged that there were some households which were improperly enrolled in the programme.

To rectify the situation, TASAF has come up with new technology to register beneficiaries biometrically. “We have strengthened control systems to ensure proper identification of poor people and households. We have purchased more than 800 tablets which will simplify the identification and registration exercise across the country,” he said.

Households that live in extreme poverty have gone down by two percentage points during the past eight years, NBS surveys indicate.

NBS Director General Dr Albina Chuwa said basic needs poverty relating to lacking minimum resources needed for physical wellbeing, declined to 26.4 per cent of the population in 2018.

Basic needs poverty was quoted at 34.4 per cent in 2006 and then dropped to 28.2 per cent in 2012.

The rate, puts Tanzania at a better place compared to most of its African peers, the director noted.

In Kenya and South Africa for instance the population living in absolute poverty stood at 36.3 per cent and 55.5 per cent respectively in 2015, she added.