Sh64 billion ‘sunk' in Uhuru celebrations By Mkinga Mkinga, The Citizen Reporter Dar es Salaam. The government spent a total of Sh64 billion to facilitate celebrations to mark the 50th independence anniversary of Mainland Tanzania. Sources from the celebrations organising committee and Treasury confided separately to The Citizen that the money was spent on exhibitions by all ministries and some government agencies, plus the grand gala that marked the climax of the event at Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam last Friday. Some Sh8 billion was allocated to local governments. Our source reveals that regional administration and local government authorities organised celebrations in all of the Mainland's 21 regions, and 136 district councils. Major items on which the money was spent included preparatory logistics, fuel, per diem for civil servants and printing costs for leaflets highlighting achievements that respective districts and regions had registered over the 50-year period.In Dar es Salaam, the celebrations started in earnest in July, shortly after the Public Service Week. Ministries took turns at the Mnazi Mmoja grounds, to showcase their activities. Ministerial exhibitions, per diem dues ‘ and other exhibition-related expenses ‘swallowed' between Sh9 and 11 billion, the source from Treasury hinted. The same source revealed that about Sh213 million was given to Tanzania trade Development Authority (TanTrade), to finance some ministerial exhibitions as well as those of state agencies and the private sector, at Mwalimu Nyerere exhibition grounds along Kilwa Road in Dar es Salaam. Reached for comment last week, the TanTrade chief executive officer, Mr Ramadhan Khalfan, said his organisation had presented a budget of Sh613 million for the exhibitions but was given only Sh213 million.He also said the government barred them from charging entry fees to recoup some of the expenses incurred in organising the fair. "Our budget was for preparations of the pavilions to enable the exhibitors to have a convenient area and space to showcase their activities... we are not part of other expenses on the Uhuru exhibitions held elsewhere," Mr Khalfan said. Some reports suggest that money wasn't allocated equitably to ministries, citing Sh600million for the Ministry for Finance and Economic Affairs for the 12-day exhibition at Mwalimu Nyerere grounds.A senior officer within the Finance ministry who is also part of the team at the exhibition that ends today, said staff manning the pavilion are paid a daily Sh100,000 allowance each. Enquiries by this paper showed that allocations to ministries ranged from Sh30million to Sh150 million. The ministry of Industries, Trade and Marketing reportedly received Sh30million.Each of the nearly 5,000 youngsters who participated in the mass display on Friday was reportedly paid Sh40,000, but a figure for defence and security staff who staged various shows couldn't be obtained. According to some computations, the money spent on the celebrations could have financed construction of a 60kilometre tarmac road.Dr Azaveli Lwaitama, a senior lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, has faulted the government for spending so much money on celebrations, amid severe economic hardships. He said it was upsetting that, while billions of shillings had been spent on merry-making, some university students haven't been able to get loans for financing their education, presumably because the government lacks cash."It would have been better if the independence celebrations had not been that grandiose with all those military displays and the cocktail party at the State House grounds featuring so many invitees. Otherwise, it is in order to have spent some money on the celebrations because this was indeed a great event that needs to be appropriately remembered," Dr Lwaitama said. Ubungo Member of Parliament Mr John Mnyika (Chadema) said the money should have been channelled into development projects."I know that the money spent is more than Sh50 billion… so I urge the Prime Minister, Mizengo Pinda, to come out publicly and give the data on how much the government spent up to December 9, " Mr Mnyika said. The Ubungo MP said the Uhuru anniversary would have been more memorable if the money had been spent on settling teachers' debts, as well as those of other public employees."We could also have spent the money on building feeder roads in Dar es Salaam, to ease congestion on the few major roads... people would have remembered that for long time," he said, adding: "It is amazing that the government spent all that money on celebrations while it had allocated only Sh5 billion for the construction of feeder roads and only Sh6 billion for Kidunda water project." The MP asked the Controller and Auditor General to conduct a thorough audit on how the money was used. Efforts to solicit comments from Finance and Economic affairs minister Mustafa Mkullo failed, as his mobile phone was not reachable, the deputy permanent secretary, Dr Servacius Likwelile, said he was not in a position to comment on the matter.