The Sh15 trillion ($9.493 billion) budget presented on Thursday by Finance minister Dr William Mgimwa has been received with mixed reactions. Some sections of the media called it a ‘fair-for-all budget,’ though they couldn’t justify why or how it is so fair for all Tanzanians, while analysts, politicians and legislators described it as a bad budget.
The question that begs an urgent answer is whether this is a good budget which is fair for all as is being trumpeted, or it is just another bad one full of wishful thinking and plans which can hardly be achieved.
For instance, the budget allocates about Sh4.5 trillion ($2.8 billion), or 30 per cent, to development - equivalent to what Kenya will spend on the education sector alone.
What does this indicate? It simply tells you that 70 per cent of all the trillions would be used to fund the government’s operations, paying interest on borrowed loans and other expenditure. Simply put, it means that each Tanzanian has been allocated Sh102,272.7 for development.
We are not told what percentage of our budget has been allocated to education, health, agriculture and infrastructure. What we are told is just a general statement, but there’s not a clear breakdown for all our key priorities, which include agriculture, education, health, infrastructure, electricity and water.
“Strengthening the central railway line, which involves renovation of the train engines and wagons, will be a priority. On roads, priority projects include roads that will open up economic opportunities.
“On air and water transport, projects to be implemented include the rehabilitation of airports and the development of ports on Lake Tanganyika. A total of Sh1,382.9 billion has been allocated to this area.” Dr Mgimwa said. Another sector that received hefty funding, apart from electricity and transport, is water, which will get Sh568.8 billion ($359 million). But is this fair for all, or enough, considering the available Sh15 trillion?
According to analysts who fault the budget, the decision to allocate 70 per cent of the whole budget to recurrent expenditure, leaving just 30 per cent for development, is tantamount to stabbing the country in the back. They argue that, for a country which often clamours to be preparing the country to move from the least developed country group to a middle- income economy, development expenditure was supposed to account for between 40 and 50 per cent of the total budget.
Prof Ibrahim Lipumba, a very respected economist, said the most glaring flaw in this year’s budget is the small allocation to development expenditure vis-à-vis recurrent expenditure. “I am surprised that development expenditure has gone down once again and is now only 30 per cent of the budget. We are not doing enough on development and this is a sign of a lack of strategic thinking,” Prof Lipumba said.
In Dodoma it’s reported that some legislators from the ruling party also faulted this year’s budget, calling it unfair for the people because it gives less than what it takes from them.
Early this year, Tanzania faced one of the worst doctors’ strikes, which was finally calmed by President Kikwete after meeting them at the State House and promising that the 2012/13 budget would accommodate most of their demands.
However, the budget which was tabled in Parliament on Thursday does not clearly show how much has been allocated to doctors’ salaries and other benefits.
To put things in perspective, judging by the reactions, it seems this year’s budget has nothing to cheer about, apart from a few sectors such as electricity, infrastructure and water.
The country’s avowed hunger for development will continue to take the back seat, considering that the government has been paying lip service to pledges to accord the goal deserved status.
The budget for fiscal year 2012/13 goes to prove in no uncertain terms that the government is not serious on development.