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Saturday, April 2, 2016

Let Tanzania show the world that it can stand on its feet

THE Board of Directors of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) a few days ago decided to suspend its partnership with Tanzania.

The MCC Board of Directors deferred a vote on the re-selection of Tanzania for compact eligibility, citing the nullification of election results in Zanzibar and the need for a prompt, fair and peaceful conclusion of the electoral process.

The Board also sought assurances from the Government of Tanzania that the Cyber crimes Act would not be used to limit freedom of expression and association, in light of arrests made during the elections.

Another statement from the United States Ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Mark Childress, who expressed full support to the MCC board’s decision to suspend development of a second compact, went on to add that the two countries (United States and Tanzania) have long-standing and deep relationships across many sectors.“As Tanzania’s largest bilateral development partner, we will continue our work together to improve health and education, promote economic growth and advance security,” Mr Childress noted in the statement.

Following the MCC Board’s decision to suspend its partnership with Tanzania and deferred a vote on the re-selection of Tanzania for compact eligibility, the media was awash with comments of people expressing fear that this is a blow to the country’s development.

There were those who saw the move as a ‘stab in the back’ impressing upon the government to forge ahead using domestic resources and fund its own development, saying the move by MCC board of directors is a blessing in disguise that’s meant to make Tanzania stand on its own.

Some noted that such kinds of assistance come with conditions that have already cost the nation ‘an arm and a leg’ in form of bad contracts that have harmed the country. On many occasions during and after the election campaigns, President John Magufuli expressed his desire to see Tanzania depending less on donors.

The latest remark by the president on that score was during Easter mass where President Magufuli appealed to Tanzanians to work hard to enable the country depend less on foreign donor.

During Easter mass at the Azania Front Cathedral of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) in Dar es Salaam, Dr Magufuli said Tanzanians can stop relying on conditional loans from foreign donors if they cultivate a culture of working hard.

We have seen him take a number of austerity measures focused on boosting government revenue collections and cutting down on expenditure and using the money to fund development projects since he took office in November, last year.

The measures taken by President Magufuli include banning foreign travel for civil servants (and for those who must travel, should get a travel permit from himself or his Chief Secretary Engineer John Kijazi) and fighting corruption and economic saboteurs. Indeed we have started seeing results.

Enhanced tax collections which have gone into improving provision of social services like free education, loans to higher learning students and funding development projects. In February, this year, the Minister for Finance and Planning, Dr Philip Mpango, told Parliament that the government intended to cut donor dependence to three per cent in the next budget from the current 6.4 per cent.

He said the reduced dependence would be compensated by increasing domestic tax revenue by 15 per cent, borrowing commercially, cutting wasteful expenditure and reviewing tax exemptions.

All these positive moves by the government to ensure that all Tanzanians benefit from improved services in just about five months should give the public confidence and wisdom to trust in the 5th phase government.

The MCC situation started rearing its head in December, last year, hence the reason why the government did not include the Compact II funds in its 2016/17 national budget. Dr Mpango told the ‘Daily News’ that the government was yet to receive an official statement from the MCC Board of Directors, adding : This is a good lesson that as a nation we must work hard and support the government in revenue collection so that we can fund our own projects.”

On the Zanzibar election, which was cited by the MCC board as one of the reasons for suspension of its partnership with Tanzania, Dr Mpango said, “We believe the elections in Zanzibar were free and fair and we have no issues with that.” On Cybercrime Act, the minister said the law was enacted by the National Assembly and there are procedures to be followed if the government sees the need for amendments and not otherwise.

The MCC Board of Directors reportedly deferred a vote on the re-selection of Tanzania for compact eligibility, citing the nullification of election results in Zanzibar and the Cybercrimes Act, claiming that the law was used to limit freedom of expression and association.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. It is time for Tanzanians to stand by their government. They must ensure that taxes are paid and ask for proper receipts when purchasing items to enable the government collect more revenue.

To show the world that we can stand on our own feet, we must produce more and stand by the president and his government in the resolve to take Tanzania to a different level of development.

/Daily News.

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