2010-02-04 23:52:00 Concern as banks' pending cases hit Sh1 trillion mark President Jakaya Kikwete with Chief Justice Augustino Ramadhani (left) and Speaker of the National Assembly Samuel Sitta during an official function to mark Law Day in Dar es Salaam yesterday.Chief Justice says bankers have agreed to contribute funds to help the Judiciary clear the backlog By Ray Naluyaga THE CITIZEN Some 260 banking sector cases involving more than Sh1 trillion are stuck in courts due to lack of funds in the Judiciary to speed up their hearing, Chief Justice Augustino Ramadhani said yesterday. Speaking during the Law Day celebrations officiated at by President Jakaya Kikwete in Dar es Salaam, the Chief Justice said the Tanzania Association of Bankers had offered to contribute money to rescue the situation. "These cases, Mr President, gravely affect Tanzania's economy and its development. The country will never develop if the cases remain unresolved," Mr Justice Ramadhani said. The total banking sector cash held up in the pending litigation has increased by a whopping Sh900 billion in the past three years alone. In 2007, the pending cases were worth over Sh100 billion. In response, President Kikwete told Justice Ramadhani that he would be pleased to know what the Judiciary needed to clear the pending cases as soon as possible. The President said that during the 2010/2011 financial year, the Judiciary would have an independent basket fund. �I am not promising you heaven, but a huge port can not be completely empty,� he said. The Sh1 trillion tied into various criminal and civil suits could have a significant effect on the economy if the cases could be settled fast. Bankers have argued in the past that delays in finalising the cases adversely affect their investments and hamper expansion plans. This has also contributed to the country�s poor yearly ranking in the ease and cost of doing business, as delay in dispute resolution is a disincentive to would-be investors. Mr Justice Ramadhani would not say how much money the bankers� association proposed to donate to the Judiciary or how it would be used. But such assistance my enable the holding of additional court sessions and help meet the costs of judicial sector personnel and other expenses. Yesterday, the CJ said the High Court was also burdened with a backlog of criminal cases. Remandees in some prisons had staged protests to put pressure on the Judiciary to speed up the hearing of their cases. He said the Judiciary had received Sh830 million from the Legal Sector Reform Programme to speed up the hearing and determination of cases. He said that despite the fact that courts are in every region and the 123 districts, the budgetary allocation to the regional administration was higher than the Judiciary�s. In the 2009/2010 Budget, the Judiciary received Sh38 billion, while Mtwara, one of the smallest regions, received Sh52 billion. He said Mwanza Region received Sh135 billion and Mara Region, Sh75 billion, for their recurrent expenditure during the same financial year. Mr Justice Ramadhani said Mtwara's budget exceeded that of the Judiciary by Sh13 billion, while that of Mwanza was three times and that of Mara, twice bigger. �Mr President, the Judiciary is in every district, but we have the thinnest budget compared to all the regions, including the smallest,� he said. Attorney-General Frederick Werema said that during his address to Parliament in December 2005, President Kikwete promised to increase the Judiciary's budget every financial year and that had been fulfilled. Mr Werema said that in 2005/2006, the government allocated Sh33 billion to the Judiciary and in the current financial year, Sh62 billion, an increase of about 50 per cent in five years. He said the Head of State had also appointed 42 judges of the High Court. The AG further said that the government had also issued 223 resident magistrates� licences and 291 new primary court magistrate licence between 2005 and 2009. "The Judiciary continues to face challenges, but I believe the government will continue to work harder to help it overcome those challenges." Chief Justice Ramadhani also announced a proposal to scrap the district land tribunals, saying they were not working, as intended. The president of Tanganyika Law Society, Dr Fauz Twaib, said he if it was not for major weaknesses in land administration, most of the cases clogging the courts would not have been there. He said the administration had most of the times been involved in the creation of the disputes, hence the failure to reach a solution. As a result, he added, the administration sent the cases to courts for quicker resolution. "It is not my intention to exonerate the courts on this one. But with this situation in mind, the rot from the land administration is being shifted to our country�s land courts," Dr Twaib said. He said a similar situation was to be found in other areas, including industry, where most of the labour disputes could be solved without resorting to courts.