Posh cars out, cheap models in - Pinda

Toyota Land Cruiser VX V8 (CC 4500)
The government is planning to do away with the high maintenance cars that top ranking officers have become accustomed to. 

They will have to climb down and use 2000cc vehicles, down from 3000cc, as the State seeks to cut costs.

Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda yesterday outlined the new measures the government intends to take to cut costs, key among them a move to stop buying big cars that are hard to maintain and resort to cheaper models for top officers.

National leaders are to be limited in the use of vehicles during their tours of the regions and the government will henceforth maintain a fleet of vehicles to be used during such visits. 

Tabling his Budget in the Parliament, Mr Pinda said the government would buy and distribute cars according to engine capacity. 

But in a quick rejoinder, Leader of the Official Opposition Freeman Mbowe said the problem was not so much the capacity of the vehicles but the fact that  no one was closely monitoring how they were used.

All along, he added, the PM has had the authority to influence the way vehicles are used but he had failed to do so. Whereas Mr Pinda had in the past rejected an expensive vehicle, Mr Mbowe said, he did nothing to change the government policy on the purchase of such vehicles.

The ministry responsible and Tanzania Electrical, Mechanical and Services Agency (Temesa) were accused of having failed to effectively monitor the management of public vehicles, so much so that money put into servicing and fueling government vehicles had risen significantly each year.

Mr Mbowe noted that the Prime Minister’s office would need 660.6m/- for fuel and service of vehicles in the next financial year. “We thank the Prime Minister for the promise he has made today,” he added. “We are waiting to see if it will be implemented.”

According to Mr Pinda, the move will go alongside strict measures against public servants found to have embezzled funds. 

He added: “Such public servants will be investigated and once the allegations are proved, they will be sacked and charged before courts of law. Let me reiterate that such people will not be shifted from one area to another.”

Leaders, top executives, directors of public institutions and councillors will be required to keep an eye on how public resources are used. 

Executive directors and local government executives will also be required to post on notice boards all information on the amount of money received each month and how it has been used.

The directives concerning the purchase and use of government vehicles are to be issued officially soon. “This will help us more in cutting down the costs associated with fuel and service of the so-called expensive cars,” Mr Pinda said.

During an interview with a local TV station in May this year, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office responsible for Policy, Coordination and Parliamentary Affairs, Mr William Lukuvi, said the prime minister had stopped issuing permits for buying government vehicles. Some directors in his office are reportedly using Toyota RAV4 cars.

Should any pressing need to buy such cars arise, the prime minister will allow Land Cruiser VX and V8 hard tops and double cabins to be bought—but not at a cost of more than Sh200 million apiece. In 2009, the PM promised to cut down on expensive cars. 

He said the cash saved would be spent on tractors to boost the agriculture sector.
In April this year, the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Mr John Cheyo, submitted a report to Parliament that revealed that the government, owned a fleet of cars worth Sh5 trillion as of June 30, 2010—which is almost 40 per cent of the 2011/12 national Budget.

A V8 reportedly costs more than 200m/-, which can finance the tuition fees of 50 students at university or the construction of 10 classrooms.
Source: The Citizen, www.thecitizen.co.tz , reported by Alex Bitekeye, 

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