Budget review time weve some explaining to do By KARL LYIMO email@example.com THE EAST AFRICAN It was budget review season yet again, as Tanzanias development partners came visiting to talk about the nations lifeline: donor support for the budget. For a week from October 29, they talked with Tanzanian officials regarding the operations of their general budgetary support. This is important, as the countrys budget is more than 40 per cent donor-dependent. GENERAL BUDGETARY support is one way in which the Group of 14 aids Tanzania, injecting funds into the budget. Others are basket funds for a particular sector or programme, and project funds for specific projects. Budgetary support for the 2007/08 financial year stood at $673 million or 15 per cent of the countrys $5.14 billion expenditure. If you factor in support under the other schemes, the figure shoots up to 41 per cent. THIS IS bad enough. Kenya, a fellow member of the East African Community, has less than five per cent of its budget supported by donors, much as it is no match to Tanzania when it comes to natural resources. Yet, Kenya is not on the worlds least developed countries list of shame! AGAIN, NOT only is Tanzania the third largest producer of gold in Africa after South Africa and Ghana, it is also home to a variety of other precious minerals including the unique tanzanite as well as natural gas, fishery and forestry products, arable land, water bodies, tourist attractions, and a million other God-given goodies. But this has not stopped it from being the 4th poorest country in the world, a beggar state that routinely depends on external donations to scrape through a day at a time in the backwaters of the global economy. Why are the people of such a rich country so poor? THE FOUNDER of the nation, the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, stipulated that, for Tanzania to develop, it needed land, people, good policies and good leadership. The first two we have in abundance, so the inescapable reason for our poverty must lie in the last two. Policies may sound wonderful on paper. But, problems arise when you have beggar-thy-neighbour type of leaders. Thats Tanzania today, living from hand to mouth never mind the 41 per cent budgetary support. BUT THIS cannot go on forever. In recent weeks, allegations of corruption against high-placed public officials and hitherto hallowed institutions like the Central Bank have rent the air. No one expects humans to be infallible. But, when for example the Buzwagi mining contract is signed in a private hotel abroad on a weekend, when the Richmond power deal is signed at night, and when a dubious company, Deep Green Tanzania, opens a bank account on a public holiday, are the transactions above-board? GOVERNMENT RESPONSE to the charges has been desultory, at best economical with the truth. Clearly, this has irked donors. As the British High Commissioner in Dar told the budgetary support review panel, ? it is important that the government is seen proactively to address the allegations: to investigate, to explain where allegations are misconceived, and to prosecute where the evidence warrants it. ANYTHING SHORT of that, and Tanzania could kiss its development partners goodbye. What a tragedy! Karl Lyimo is a freelance journalist based in Dar.