MEMBERS of Parliament (MPs) yesterday hailed budget estimates for the 2016/17, saying they have significantly reduced the dependence on donors and focused on domestic resources.
The MPs, however, urged the government to outline new sources of revenue to ensure it caters for outlined development projects and step in when the small percentage reserved for donors is not met.
The government yesterday presented before MPs, proposed budget ceiling for 2016/17 financial year, which will be 29.539 trillion/-, an increase of 31.32 per cent from this financial year’s budget ending June 2016 which was at 22.495tri/-.Presenting the budget estimates yesterday, the Minister for Finance and Planning, Dr Phillip Mpango, said development partners will only contribute about 12 per cent of the total budget, about 3tri/-.
Mr Japhet Hasunga (Vwawa - CCM) said the government did a commendable job by cutting down donor dependence in the national budget, citing bad experiences in previous budgets.
Mr Hasunga said some of the donor funding comes with conditions, some which are detrimental to the nation, stressing that if some of the donors fail to contribute to the budget the government can easily step in using domestic resources.
“I support the government’s efforts to cut down donor dependence to just 3tri/- out of the 29tri/- budgeted for next financial year 2016/17.
I believe Tanzania is abundantly blessed with natural resources, we just need to ensure we maximise revenue collection,” he noted.
He added “and now that we have natural gas and coupled with the other natural resources that we and the government’s position to reduce spending and maximise on revenue collection, we need to do away with donor dependence and become self-reliant.”
Mr Zitto Kabwe (Kigoma Urban - ACT-Wazalendo) described the budget as a daring move and a major step by the government to come up with a budget of 29.5tri/- for the financial year 206/17 from 22.5tri/- in 2015/16.
Mr Kabwe also noted the important steps taken by the government to increase domestic resources, but stressed also the importance of ensuring the efforts do not make it difficult for local businesses to operate.
The Kigoma Urban MP said the government was depending on getting loans from local financial institutions amounting to 5tri/-, this means the government will be competing with local businesses in getting loans ... in economic terms we call this crowding out,” he urged.
According to him, the move can have a serious impact on small businesses which depend on loans to finance their business projects, noting that the MPs should take ample time to discuss and advise the government accordingly and get an implementable budget.
Mr Zitto also commended the government for its plans to increase budget for higher learning institutions and absorb many students graduating from various secondary schools in the country.
“The government is planning to expand higher learning facilities to accommodate more students who will complete their secondary education.
And if we get more students qualifying, as we improve the quality of education it is clear that we will need more universities, colleges, technical trainings and vocational institutions. I have seen the government has strategies to increase these higher learning institutions,” he explained.
Ms Magdalena Sakaya (Kaliua - CUF) advised the government to seek out new sources of revenue and increase domestic revenuecollection.
She said the government was currently collecting more revenue as a result of fines from tax defaulters who are also paying their dues.
“Once all these people have paid up, tax collections will go down ... there is a need for the government to outline other sources of domestic revenue collections which are plenty,” she noted.
Citing an example, Ms Sakaya said the government can now establish a Fish Port that would cater for fishing ships, both local and foreign, that conduct deep sea fishing and collect revenue on the catches.
“This is currently not being implemented. We proposed that the government establish the Fish Port but nothing has been done yet. This is a very good source of revenue for the government.
There are people fishing in the deep sea for free. This is the right time for the government to implement this,” she noted. Another source for domestic revenue, according to Ms Sakaya, is the mining sector, noting that whatever the government is currently getting ‘’is peanuts compared to what is actually obtaining on the ground.’’
She added that steps taken by the government to curb theft, including putting up inspection gates, should be looked at again, adding that there isn’t any inspection done to vehicles passing through the gates.
Earlier, while chairing the one-day meeting comprising of Members of Parliament (MPs), ministers and other government officials, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa commended the MPs and their committees for commendable work that have contributed to presentation of the budget estimates.
In his speech, National Assembly Speaker Job Ndugai noted that the main agenda of the meeting was to receive the budget estimates and for the parliamentary budget committee to embark on analysing the recommended budget proposal and advise sectoral parliamentary committees and the government accordingly.