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MPs cast verbal votes to pass budget

Chadema legislators in the National Assembly in Dodoma yesterday after several days of absence during which they attended the funeral of the party's supporters killed in recent bomb blast at a political
The National Assembly yesterday endorsed the proposed 2013/14 government budget amounting to 18.2 trn/- by direct vote with 235 members supporting it while 35 said no.

Announcing the results, the national assembly clerk said 270 members were in the debating chamber to cast their verbal vote, while 83 others were reported absent.

Finance Minister William Mgimwa when winding up the debate said all pertinent matters pertaining to review of tax on telecommunication services and the decision by the government to scrap Road Toll on motorcycles( Bodaboda) and tricycles( Bajaj) would be explained in the Finance Bill to be tabled in the House either today or

The government also did not bow to the MPs’ pressure that called for dropping the increased Excide duty and levy on petrol and diesel. In that sense, the public should now brace for tough life in the coming financial year.

According to MPs’ observation, the increased excise duty and fuel levy would now hike the price a litre of petrol by 28 per cent, the decision that would have a spill-over effect on almost all goods and services delivered in the country.

During the debate Members of Parliament had asked the government to drop its decision of increasing tax on fuel and instead retain its earlier proposal of introducing excise duty of 1,450/- on Sim cards per month.

They said since there about 18 million registered SIM cards in the country, the government could collect over 300 billion in 2013/2014 fiscal year.

Yesterday evening Opposition Chief Whip Tundu Lissu told reporters that earlier in the morning police barred them from entering the Parliamentary debating chamber on the grounds that they had put on Chadema party attire.

They said apart being prevented from entering the House yesterday they also felt it was not fair to participate in the last stage of budget endorsement since they were denied the chance to contribute to the financial estimates debate.

They said the debate was supposed to end today ( Tuesday) but Speaker Anne Makinda shortened the debate, denying them an opportunity to participate, taking into account that the were in Arusha region to attend the funeral of their party members who died in the recent bombing.

Meanwhile failure of the country’s economic growth to trickle down to the larger section of the public is caused by slow growth of an agriculture sector that employs three-quarters of the Tanzanian population, the government has stated.

Contributing to the speech for the estimates of government revenue and expenditures for 2013/2014 yesterday in Parliament Minister of State in President’s Office (Social Relations and Coordination) Stephen Wasira said it was true that the country’s economy has maintained steady growth for the past few years but such a growth has failed to have positive impact on majority ordinary citizens.

According to the minister, agricultural sector that employs over 75 per cent of the country’s population has been growing at around 4 per cent on average while other sectors that employ a few numbers of citizens have been recording high growth.

Wasira gave examples of sectors that recorded high growth, ranging between 7and 22 per cent as trade and tourism, mining, construction, telecommunication and financial services.

“Unfortunately, these sectors neither employ the majority of the population nor provide adequate markets for products from the most predominant sectors such as agriculture,” he said.

He said to ensure the overall high growth rate is translated into significant poverty reduction the government would direct more financial and human resources to sectors that employ the majority of the population, increase productivity across-board especially in agriculture, improve business environment in both informal and formal sectors and improve social protection programmes such as TASAF to include conditional cash transfers for targeted groups.

The country’s economic growth increased from 6.4 per cent in 2011 to 6.9 per cent last year while Kenya ’s growth increased from 4.4 per cent to 4.7 per cent.
Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda’s growth rates declined from 8.6, 4.2 and 6.7 per cent in 2011 to 7.7, 4.0 and 2.6 per cent, respectively.

According to an analysis conducted by the Institute of Business Insider of the US, based on World Bank estimates, Tanzania is among the twenty countries with the highest projected compounded annual growth rate from 2013 through 2015.

The minister also spoke on the pressing need to safeguard peace and tranquility, saying with the recent isolated cases of tragic violent incidents, including bombings, every individual irrespective of his/ her political ideology is responsible for maintaining the national heritage.

“In absence of peace and tranquility no development activity can be carried out. Peace and tranquility have no political ideologies. This is a heritage that we must safeguard at all cost,” he said.

He said political parties should compete by selling their policies, including building political arguments to win people and not through inciting violence. “Democracy without discipline is chaos”.

Wasira also said the government was losing billions of through public procurement, saying the legislation must be brought to Parliament for review.
He said procurement of public good through tenders are inflated while in actual sense the prices in the local market are ordinary.

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