Govt moves to refund police officers Saturday, 29 January 2011 09:16 The Citizen Home Affairs minister Shamsi Vuai Nahodha By Midraji Ibrahim THE CITIZEN Dar es Salaam. The Home Affairs ministry has demanded that the Treasury reimburses allowances it deducted from the December 2010 and this January salaries of members of the Police Force. The Deputy Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Khamis Kagasheki, confirmed yesterday that his office had for the last three weeks been engaged in talks with the Treasury to see how soon the police officers would be refunded. The minister was reacting to claims by some officers that up to Sh150,000, being their house and investigation allowances was arbitrarily deducted. About half of the force's 30,000 personnel were affected by the move, they said. Some of the officers who on Thursday visited this paper's offices claimed that the deductions have subjected them to unforeseen hardships. They warned that such hardships could easily lead some among them to engage in unlawful activities to make ends meet. Contacted for comment yesterday, the Finance ministry confirmed that it has been holding talks with the Treasury over the matter, but declined to comment further, adding, however, that Home Affairs minister Shamsi Vuai Nahodha would issue a statement. Efforts to get Mr Nahodha yesterday proved futile, as his phone could not be reached. His deputy said last year the Cabinet approved a plan to scrap allowances for public servants to reduce government spending, noting, however, that the move excluded members of the Defence and Security forces. Speaking from Mwanza on his way to Kagera, Mr Kagasheki insisted that the government has not directed that the officers' pay be deducted. "The cuts in the officers' pay were executed by Treasury officials for reasons best known to themselves; the government as such had no hand in it," he stressed. Minister Kagasheki who is also the MP for Bukoba Urban, said before last year's General Election, the Cabinet unanimously resolved to do away with allowances for civil servants. "The Prime Minister then promised to supervise the execution of the decision. Perhaps, the Treasury personnel, guided by anger and without doing any research, decided to scrap even allowances for the police. I say so because the Treasury personnel are the main beneficiaries of the allowances. They arrange vikao for themselves and allocate huge amounts of money to themselves as allowances," he said. (Mhhhh!) The minister further said that it was unthinkable that the allowances allocated to police officers starting from July with the blessing of the President would be removed without explanation to the affected parties. "This is wrong and unfair. They should be refunded the soonest," he demanded, adding that the allowances were meant to make life for police officers more manageable and lessen them the temptations to solicit bribes. The government move to scrap allowances for its workers has come at a time reports indicate that funds allocated by the government as per diem, travel and other allowances for public servants have trebled in the last eight years. A report entitled ‘Reforming Allowances: A win-win approach to improve service delivery, higher salaries for civil servants and saving money', released by the Policy Forum and Twaweza in 2009 said the increase was greater than applied to any other government funding item, adding that the allowances could add to as much as Sh385bn a year. If the allowances were put at 30 per cent of the wage bill, notes the report, scrapping them would save the government Sh285bn. An additional Sh100bn would be saved if government officials cut on the use of business class air tickets as well as other transport accommodation costs. It is noted in the report that an assistant director or a principal officer travelling abroad on a trip paid for by the government pockets a daily Sh546,000 in allowances. The report calculates that the highest paid civil servant (maximum salary of 2.7 million per month) going on a five-day trip abroad would easily double his or her salary from allowances. "Allowances create incentives for people to travel instead of doing their core work. This will continue for as long as senior officials can earn more in per diems from one foreign trip than the average Tanzanian farmer earns in one year of hard work," said the report.