Budget:How it will affect you

Dr Mgimwa
Tanzanians have greeted with dismay the 2012/13 Budget tabled by Finance minister William Mgimwa in Dodoma on Thursday, saying it has not met their expectations, after all.

A cross-section of opinion leaders and ordinary Tanzanians said the Budget was unimaginative as far as the identification of new revenue sources was concerned, with the government continuing to rely on tax increases on soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, spirits and cigarettes.

Some said the government’s reliance on a narrow base of revenues sources meant more misery for ordinary Tanzanians.Mr Abubakar Maneno, 53, a Dodoma businessman, said yearly tax increases on alcoholic drinks would only succeed in driving more people to illicit brews.

“It has been the trend for the government to ignore the plight of poor people by thinking that we are not affected by price changes caused by upward duty adjustments. Most people now have only one choice – illicit liquor and brews,” he said.

The Kiota for Women’s Health and Development (Kiwohede) executive director, Ms Justa Mwaituka, said this year’s Budget would pile on the agony for ordinary Tanzanians whose lives have for many years been a daily struggle to survive.

She told The Citizen on Sunday that the Budget would plunge poor Tanzanians deeper into misery, adding that it did not augur well for food security in the country.

“This Budget has forgotten farmers. The country is setting the stage for severe food shortages by not investing adequately in agriculture, which is the engine of economic growth,” Ms Mwaituka warned.

Prof Humphrey Moshi, an economics expert at the University of Dar es Salaam, concurred, saying the government had shown that it did not very much about agriculture despite its much-publicised ‘Kilimo Kwanza’ initiative.

“Agriculture is still the backbone of the economy.  The government’s quest for higher revenue without putting more emphasis on agriculture is an exercise in futility,” he said.

He also criticised the decision to introduce personalised vehicle registration plates, saying the move was made without comprehensive research having been conducted.

“This will not enable the government to substantially increase revenue collection. The government did not conduct comprehensive research before approving the idea.  How sure are they that they will collect enough money from this area?” he asked.

The chairperson of Tumaini Women’s Group, Ms Mwajuma Msaghaa, said the Budget was silent on the most vulnerable children and people living with disabilities.

“It has been the norm for vulnerable children and poor people, including the disabled, the elderly and widows, to be forgotten in the government’s plans and budget every year as if they do not deserve to have a share of the national cake…this should not be allowed to continue,” she said.
But Prof Kalafunjo Osaki, head of the Faculty of Education at the University of Dodoma (Udom), said the Budget had addressed “very crucial” issues, especially infrastructure development and unemployment.  He added that high unemployment was caused by lack of new ideas among government leaders, institutions and young people.

He said research should be conducted on entrepreneurship skills for both undergraduate and graduate students, adding that the government also needed to consider the role that school dropouts could play in small and middle-scale enterprises.

Dr Mgimwa said when presenting the Budget that the government had taken various measures to create employment by improving the policy and legal environment to facilitate the growth of the private sector.

These include expanding financial services, including recapitalisation of the Tanzania Investment Bank, Tanzania Women’s Bank, Tanzania Postal Bank and Twiga Bancorp as well as well as establishing a mortgage and lease financing company.

“Other measures include implementation of infrastructure projects, specifically roads, electricity, agriculture and telecommunication, and to empower people through various programmes,” Dr Mgimwa said.

He added that institutions that contributed to job creation included Tanzania Social Action Fund (Tasaf), Small Entrepreneurs Loan Facility Project (Self), Small Industries Development Organisation (Sido), community banks and guarantee schemes.

 In 2011/12, the government employed 25,000 primary and secondary school teachers, 4,499 agricultural and livestock extension officers and 4,499 medical specialists in the health sector. However, the government did not reveal a number of youths who secured jobs in the period.
Source: The Citizen, http://www.thecitizen.co.tz, reported by Edward Qorro and Florence Mugarula in Dar and Daniel Msangya in Dodoma
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