Tanzania's total national debt stock has reached $10.8 billion (Sh15 trillion), and experts caution about a possible debt crisis. The debt increased by about $4 billion in four years between 2007 and 2010 from $6.1 billion in June 2007 to $10.2 billion in June 2010, according to the Bank of Tanzania. By October 2010 it stood at $10.8 billion. The BoT says 84 per cent of the total debt stock was owed to the government and public corporations. This is equivalent to $9.1 billion (Sh12.7 trillion). The remaining 16 per cent ($1.7 billion) was owed to the private sector. The debt owed to the government is more than the Sh11.6 trillion allocated for the national budget in the financial year 2010/11 . It also means that every Tanzania was owed about $214 (Sh375,000). Reacting to the rising debt trend, experts said if the country kept borrowing at the current rate it risked falling into a debt crisis as happened in some Eurozone countries such as Greece. "Despite some possible justifications, having a debt higher than revenue means living beyond the means. This could pose a problem to the economy in future, especially if it keeps increasing," Prof Humphrey Moshi, an economics lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, said. Dr Honest Ngowi, a lecturer at Mzumbe Univerity's Dar es Salaam Business School, was concerned that the rising debt was not supported by rising revenues from various government sources. This could increase the country's risk level and affect its creditworthiness. "What worries me is that taxpayers are the ones who suffer the consequences of such a big debt. The government must make sure that it controls the debt otherwise the country could follow in the footsteps of Greece and become bankrupt," Dr Ngowi said. He noted that there is a high need for a credit auditing agency to control the country's debt. Prof Marjorie Mbilinyi of the Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP) said there was a need to question the cause of the debt. "One major explanation of high debt is the inflated size of the government and the inflated budget that goes along with it; and the kind of expenditures that this government makes, often in conflict with the priorities of the majority of Tanzanians, and marginalised women in particular," she said. She added that after the October elections, the newly elected President had the opportunity with his advisors to take immediate measures to reduce the size of the Cabinet, as many activists and other concerned citizens continually recommended during the first five years of his leadership. Tanzania received debt relief amounting to $3 billion in 2001 thorough the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. Coupled with improved revenue collections and reduced government expenditure the total debt stock decreased from $10 billion in 2006 to $6 billion in 2007. But as revenue started falling due to the power crisis of 2006 the debt stock started increasing from $7.5 billion in 2008 to the current levels . The Research and Poverty Alleviation (Repoa) executive director, Prof Samuel Wangwe, said the ballooning debt was excusable if the money was spent wisely. "The issue here is how the money is being used. If the debt is being used effectively in development projects and if the economy keeps growing then there is no problem," Prof Wangwe said. He said had the economy been posting negative growth, while the debt keeps increasing then that would have been a cause for alarm. But Prof Ibrahim Lipumba, a seasoned economist and chairman of the Civic United Front (CUF), said the Tanzanian government was still unable to prudently and sustainably manage public funds. And this makes the government's high borrowing a problem. "I am concerned that despite the big debt the government still want to float a Eurobond to borrow a further $1.5 billion. This will put the country in a difficult situation," said Prof Lipumba. The acting secretary-general of the Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (Tucta), Mr Nicholas Mgaya, said it was disheartening that the government currently borrows at the rate of 40 per cent of its budget annually but also misappropriate public funds at the rate of 30 per cent annually as indicated by the controller and auditor general (CAG) reports. "The government debt will continue to increase because of poor fund management," said Mr Mgaya. (Reported by Frank Kimboy, Florence Mugarula and Victor Karega) My Take: Hivi JK amewahi lini kufanya kazi ya mambo aliyosomea with executive responsibilities.