Members of Parliament for Kisesa constituency Luhaga Mpina (CCM), who for the past week attracted public attention for his hard stance against 2012/13 national budget, says the battle was far from over as he will not change his position until changes he sought are accommodated.
Though the budget was approved on Friday through voting during which he walked out of the House shortly before vote casting Mpina claims the matter remains inconclusive until the Finance Bill is passed toward the end of the current session.
The budget estimates were tabled in the National Assembly on June 14 by the Minister for Finance, Dr William Mgimwa.
Mpina who had voiced loudly against it at a press conference at the weekend and during debate in the House decided to abstain from voting for or against the budget following failed attempts to seek his adherence by Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office for Policy, Coordination and Parliamentary Affairs, William Lukuvi.
He told The Guardian on Sunday yesterday that he decided not to vote because supporting or opposing would deprive him of an opportunity to stress his points at the time of debating and passing the Finance Bill in August.
“What was passed yesterday was just a speech but the crucial moment is during passing the Finance Bill which is the final in terms of determining which amount should be allocated where and all the adjustments on funds allocation is effected by that time,” he pointed out.
Asked in which areas he was still unconvinced by government amendments on the budget speech, he said: “Talk of all areas my major concern is the government failure to allocate enough amount of development funds as agreed upon by the House in 2011 when we passed the 5-year development plan. We concluded that at least Sh2.7 trillion be set aside for development expenditure but the budget has allocated only Sh2.2 trillion with a deficit of Sh500 billion.”
Legislator Mpina said it was illogical and open deceit for Minister of State and the Presidents’ Office, responsible for Relations and Coordination Stephen Wassira and Minister for Finance Dr Mgimwa to state that funds amounting to Sh841.4 billion allocated for human resources development were development expenditure despite being slotted in the recurrent expenditure portfolio.
“The explanation given by the two ministers is not justifiable. For many years these funds mainly spent on education are termed as recurrent expenditure as they are about providing services to people. This is not development; you can’t give such weak reasoning to win MPs’ support and expect everybody to do so. How can one refer buying test tubes or school laboratory chemicals as development expenditure?” he queried.
The Kisesa legislator said he was aware of the number of projects which have been denied important funds due to government failure to allocate the agreed money for development.
“I would better be put to task by my party by talking openly on the principal matters agreed in the House instead of becoming a hypocrite. I serve my party and my country by speaking the truth rather that keeping quiet or otherwise,” he further asserted.
It is imperative to highlight that if the government will not heed to these call and the legislator stand firm in his position, he may find himself in a position of being censured by the party.
The Union Constitution provides that when the budget is shot down altogether that warrants the President to dissolve the National Assembly to hold fresh parliamentary elections.
When he spoke out for the first time on his budget displeasure on June 15 Mpina said he was ready for any consequential effects including being dismissed from the party for his decision to defy his party and the government.
Minister Stephen Wasssira stated in his winding up remarks on Friday when he pleaded with opposition MPs to approve the budget as failure to do so would mean that they would not get funds for fare to take them back home.
He said that according to guidelines for expenditure probity, in order to fulfill activity outlined in the priority areas, the plan identifies a range of strategic activities. The cost of implementation amounts to 42.98 trn/- over the next five years or an average of Sh8.6trn per annum exclusive of the recurrent budget, where Sh2.7trn will have to be mobilized annually by the government.
Mpina who is also a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, said the tabled budget goes contrary to parliamentary direction which resolved that at least 35 percent of budget go to development projects buyt this year budget has set aside 30 percent. “The budget tabled by the minister is not valid on the basis of parliament directives,” he said.
He said as the government allocated a huge amount of money (70 percent) in recurrent expenditure which would not benefit Tanzanians.
Mpina argued that there were many Tanzanians dying everyday due to lack of treatment and medical drugs, lack of water, poor education, big shortage of teachers’ houses, laboratories and electricity.
He said a development plan is a contract between citizens and Government, hence members of Parliament as representatives are obliged to protect it. He revealed that he has been urging the government through their committee to make major changes in the budget without success.
He cited some avoidable expenditure as stipulated in Volume II estimates of public expenditure, consolidated funds services (2012/13) where there is an increase of 4, Sh753,098,000 for just two ministries, for Energy and Minerals and of Finance.
Mpina gave one of shocking examples of an increase of Sh1.949 bn on the management and information system at the Energy ministry as that expenditure is proposed to rise from Sh53.87m to Sh2.003bn.