Tanzania National Assembly resumes here this morning after a weekend in recess, with legislators finalising debate on the 2017/18 national budget estimates.
After the question-answer session in the morning, Members of Parliament (MPs) will debate the 31.7tri/- revenue and expenditure plan, which Finance and Planning Minister, Philip Mpango unveiled here on June 8th the other week.
The Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Job Ndugai will then ask each MP to vote for or against the budget proposals, tomorrow.
The lawmakers had for the past whole week debated the proposals, with the exports of the mineral concentrates dominating the deliberations.
Literally, each of the MPs from the ruling CCM started their contributions with praises to President John Magufuli for what they described as “his bold and courageous move” to control the country’s natural resources for the best interest of all Tanzanians.
During the week, the legislators adopted a special resolution to commend the president for his daring efforts, and high level of patriotism towards enabling Tanzanians to benefit from their nationally endowed resources.
Newala Urban MP George Mkuchika, reading the resolution in the house, assured the head of state that the national assembly was available to give him dedicated support to ensure that his zeal and determination serve as a catalyst for Tanzanians to defend their resources.
“This parliament unanimously resolves to assure the president that it is with him and we are ready to offer devoted cooperation, as will be required to ensure that his efforts, courage and high level of patriotism become the catalyst towards making the mining sector contribute in development of the majority citizens’ livelihoods,” further said the legislator.
Besides, the exchange of political sarcasm between the ruling CCM and Opposition, the replacement of motor vehicle licence fee with a 40/- charge per litre of fuel, swelling national debt, property tax, among others, have attracted the attention of all legislators, irrespective of their political inclination.
The Budget Committee Chairperson, Ms Hawa Ghasia, presenting the committee report raised concern over excessive recurrent expenditures beyond the country’s ability to collect revenue from internal sources, arguing that recurrent expenditures were exceeding domestic revenues by 423bn/-, implying that “all the money we collect internally is enough only for recurrent spending.
The legislators denounced the servicing of the national debt that consumes 9.46tri/-, about 30 per cent of the total budget, as a huge burden and impediment to implementation of the government budget.
They faulted the government’s dependency on domestic loans, saying it adversely affects the private sector and ultimately stifles the country’s economic growth. According to Dr Mpango’s proposals, the government envisages raising 7.76tri/- through the sale of government securities in the domestic market.
However, MPs unanimously opposed the central government bid to take over on revenue sources at the local government authorities, saying the move will cripple the councils. Instead, they opposed Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) collecting the property and advert taxes at the local governments.
The 40/- charge per litre on fuel sparked heated debate, with its supporters welcoming it as a great relief while critics, describing it as a new system of collecting the road toll and unjustifiable burden to the poor people, especially the rural dwellers who rely on kerosene as their main source of energy.
David Silinde (Momba- Chadema) and Kasuku Bilago (Buyungu-Chadema) opposed the shift of motor vehicle licence fee to fuel, saying it’s compelling the poor rural folks to pay for the luxuries of mostly urban-based motorists. Save for the few criticisms, the legislators generally supported the government for coming up with what they described as ‘historic good budget’ for the interest of majority Tanzanians.
But, the opposition punched holes on the tax revenue and expenditure plan, saying it is suppressing the poor. Prospects are high that the budget will easily sail through tomorrow when the MPs will have to vote openly for or against it.