A CROSS section of Members of Parliament yesterday expressed mixed reactions on the government’s budget estimates for revenue and expenditure for 2017/18.
Opposition MPs termed it as business as usual with almost the same sources of beer, soda and cigarette, saying it is too much donor dependence.
Those from the ruling party praised the budget speech, saying it had incorporated a lot of the National Assembly recommendations. They cited the abolition of annual road licence fee of vehicles as a good step.
Reading the budget estimates, Finance and Planning Minister, Philip Mpango said the government would abolish annual motor vehicle licence fee and increase excise duty on petrol, diesel and kerosene.
While reading the speech, the lawmakers mainly from the government side interrupted the minister with cheers when he mentioned the changes.
“It has never happened in the history of this House, having such a good budget speech” said Speaker of the National Assembly, Job Ndugai, immediately after the minister ended his speech. He argued that if the trend continues, then it is obvious it will be a walk-over for the ruling party in 2020.
However, speaking at the Parliament grounds, Ubungo MP, Saed Kubenea (CHADEMA) criticised the budget, saying at least 12 per cent is donor based.
He also argued that most district councils in the country will face serious financial problems as the government through TRA will collect several revenues that were being collected by the councils.
For instance, in the new proposal TRA will from July, this year start collecting levies on billboards and advertising signs on public area, an area that was initially under the councils.
“The budget looks quite good, a sign that the government had listened to voices of the opposition but there is need to have new revenue sources rather than just relying on the traditional ones,” he said.
Vunjo MP, James Mbatia (NCCR-Mageuzi) on his part crushed the budget, saying it had similar revenue sources and dependent on loans by 33 per cent. He said in his speech, the minister stated that there were plans to borrow 3.9 trillion/- from foreign sources and 7 trillion/- from domestic sources.
“National debt has increased from 39 trillion/- to 50 trillion/-, a record 9.2 per cent increase in just two years of the fifth government,” said the former shadow minister for finance.
He said it was politics as usual, noting that the government would find it difficult in implementing such a bloated budget with no proper revenue sources.
Momba MP, David Silinde (CHADEMA) argued that increasing levy on petroleum products will be a burden to the poor Tanzanians, most of them do not have vehicles and were not affected by the road licence.
Sumbawanga Town MP, Hilal Aesh (CCM) praised the budget speech, saying it has answered most questioned raised by parliamentary committees. “ The budget is generally good and some of the few areas that need streamlining will be debated as from next week,” he noted.
Muibara MP, Kangi Lugola (CCM) said there was great hope in the fifth government, noting that within only two years in office, their budget speech provided solutions to many teething problems.