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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Magufuli warns cabinet ministers


In another hard-hitting message to his administration, President John Magufuli has said he will get rid of any cabinet minister who goes against his austerity principles.

He announced that state agents will be secretly recording the conversations of all ministers to identify those who are privately

Magufuli, nicknamed ‘The Bulldozer’, introduced a raft of radical government cost-cutting measures right after his inauguration in November last year, including a ban on unnecessary foreign travel by public officials and other wasteful spending.

The president said he has received reports of some of his own ministers complaining about more proposed cuts in spending for procurement of goods and services at ministerial level in the government's upcoming 2016/17 fiscal year budget.The budget allocation for procurement in government ministries is categorised as non-wage expenditure, which is commonly known as other charges (OC).

The president said in a Monday State House address that he was keeping a sharp look out for the griping ministers so he can flush them out of his cabinet.

"I am told there are those who claim the OC budget is too small ... even some ministers are grumbling. I am looking for those ministers. I have sent people to record them, because their mindsets haven't changed. They still think we are in the same (previous) mode of government…they will go," he asserted.

He added: "We have a lot of educated people around... you can appoint people today and change them tomorrow until we are all on the same page regarding the building of a new Tanzania."

Just last February, Magufuli threatened to sack cabinet ministers who had failed to declare their assets or sign an integrity pledge as part of his anti-corruption drive.

He made the latest remarks at State House on Monday after receiving a cheque for 6 billion/- from Parliament derived from savings made out of its 2015/16 budget allocation.

It was at the same event that the president announced his decision to sack the Shinyanga regional commissioner, Anne Kilango Malecela, and regional administrative secretary (RAS) after they failed to take action against the presence of government 'ghost workers' in the region being paid monthly salaries at state expense.

He instructed Chief Secretary John Kijazi to ensure that permanent secretaries in government ministries do not squander budget allocations for the ministries and make savings whenever possible, citing the parliamentary example.

According to Magufuli, budget allocations under the OCs category have often been a major loophole for state funds embezzlement by unscrupulous public officials.

In the current 2015/16 budget ending in June, a total of 3.711 trillion/- was set aside for other charges, equivalent to 16.5 percent of the total budget. The OCs allocation in the 2014/15 budget was 3.735trn/-.

Explaining the rationale behind the government’s proposed 2016/17 budget, Magufuli said the idea was to drastically cut recurrent spending to free up funds for development projects.

On his government's cost-cutting measures and anti-graft drive, he said: "Our intentions are good ... some people who were used to illegally siphoning off state funds won’t be happy, but they are just a few. Let them be angry, we want to serve the majority of Tanzanians and not a just a few ... it’s a sacrifice."

"Our goal is to build a new Tanzania and that is why funds allocated for development projects in this (upcoming) budget have shot up from 26 or 27 percent to 40 percent (of the total budget)."

The president also said his government intends to push forward with its development plans despite financial aid cuts announced by some western donor organisations like the United States Millennium Challenge Compact (MCC).

He called on local journalists to be “patriotic for the sake of their country” and avoid “applauding” such aid support rejections by members of the international donor community.

“You (journalists) should feel sorry for those who have denied us aid because we will still move forward and we have prepared ourselves to do that," Magufuli said.

A major focus of the government's proposed 2016/17 development expenditure will be investments in major infrastructure projects, he confirmed, saying:

"We must have our own national aircraft and in this year's budget we have allocated funds to purchase three new planes. We want to build a standard gauge railway, and to buy ships.”

Another priority is to boost the health budget “so that we stop sending people to India everyday (for medical treatment)," the president added.

/IPPMEDIA

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