Thursday, June 16, 2011, 6:08 Habari kuu, The african BY STAFF REPORTER THE OPPOSITION Camp tabled its 2011/2012 alternative budget in the House in Dodoma yesterday, saying agriculture, which is said to be Tanzanias economic backbone; has declined and contributes little to the countrys Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The shadow Minister for Finance, Kabwe Zitto (CHADEMA) told Parliament that unlike in the past, Tanzania can not today boast itself that it exports a large component of agricultural products. The Government in 2010/11 said it launched Kilimo Kwanza as a development strategy, it does not however, reflect that agriculture has been given due emphasis by investing in the sector in order to improve the economic base of the 71 percent of the population which depends on agriculture as a source of their livelihood. He said. HE said although last year international market prices for agro-product were higher, Tanzanias traditional exports dropped. For example, coffee was down by 36.4 per cent, cotton (24.3%), tea (39.0%), cloves (47.0%); because the country failed to use the world price surge opportunities by helping improve the lives of the people by helping them increase production... He challenged the Government to understand that in the past few years, when agricultural production was declining, the communication sector was growing although it was also not fully utilised. He said the sectors that showed a growing trend were attractive to foreign investors, so the Government should have directed its efforts to the agricultural sector to help improve lives of rural Tanzanians. The inconsistencies in our economy (of abandoning agriculture) are the real cause of having a growing economy that cannot influence poverty reduction. Let us invest in rural infrastructure, rural electricity and water, said Zitto. Zitto, who is MP for North Kigoma and Deputy Opposition Leader in Parliament, said the opposition was pleased that some of its proposals were taken aboard and implemented by the Government through Ministry of Finance as reflect in last weeks Government Budget. That is a sign of democracy, said Zitto who paraphrased Mahatma Ghandhi saying: There cannot be democratic changes when we are not ready to listen to the other side. We close the doors of thinking when we refuse to listen to our opponents, or after listening to them we treat them as laughing stalks. When lack of tolerance becomes the order of the day, we place ourselves in a position not to know the truth. Zitto said Tanzania is in need of policy intervention to ensure that the mineral sector contributes sufficiently to the national economy. He said although last year, the sector grew by 2.7 percent compared to 2009/2010, its contribution to the economy stagnated at 3.3%. The Opposition also alerted the Government on high fuel prices saying although it has promised to review taxes and levies, it should remember that local fuel prices can be affected by international market prices. The solution is to increase food production and stabilise our shilling. Our fuel prices review will be meaningless if prices at the international market rise, he said. As measures to stabilise the shilling, Zitto proposed that time has come for the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) to start buying gold for national reserve and the Government should through Controller and Auditor General (CAG), audit the rising national debt. No nation can survive without debts, but let us see whether our debts are sustainable or not. What we owe today will be paid by the next generation, so the loans should be directed to specified and sustainable development projects, he said. For the Government Budget, Zitto said it was not different from last years, except for figures. He said while this years budget totals 13.5tn/- from 11tn last financial year, it appears that the expenditure had gone up. But he pointed out that taking into account that inflation was going up at the rate of 0.8 percent per month, it negates the notion that we have increased the budget and warned that if no steps were being taken to cushion the shilling, inflation could reach 12 percent by end of this year. The Budgets Highlights: To increase Government income up to 14.160tn/- from 13.525tn/-. To rise up internal revenue to 8.68tn/- from 6.7tn/-. No business loans so as to save the Government from paying higher interest rates. No allowances which is equal to 0.987tn/- and direct the same to improve public sectors employees. Government expenditure has been reduced from 8,6tn/- to 7.913tn/-. Propose enough funds to be directed to energy and gas sectors to end power shortage. Revenue collection from internal sources will be 22.84% of National Income while the Government targets 17%. Reduction of loans and grants from donors to 27.54% of the budget while Governments projection is at 29%. They will collect 1.905tn from new sources of income. Introduce new form of Personal Income Tax and all Tanzanians will have to fill tax returns forms according to the laws even if he or she earns nothing.