2009-02-16 08:01:00 Donors support tops sh800bn By Damas Kanyabwoya THE CITIZEN The donor community has already released Sh818 billion to the Government's 2008/9 Budget, a top diplomat has told The Citizen. The assistance from the General Budget Support (GBS) partners is equivalent to more than 93 per cent of the total pledges by donors who had promised about Sh878 billion. Mr Jesper Kammersgaard, deputy head of mission at the Embassy of Denmark in Tanzania, said 11 out of 14 GBS members had already honoured their pledges while the other three would have done so by the end of this month. Donor contributions account for about 36 per cent of the budget. "The partners who have still not disbursed their contributions are in the process of doing so, and we expect the transfer of GBS funds to Tanzania for 2008/09 to be completed by the end of February 2009," he told The Citizen in Dar es Salaam. He did not, however, name the donor countries that have yet to honour their pledges. The GBS is financed by 11 bilateral Development Partners together with the European Commission, World Bank and African Development Bank. The bilateral donors include the United Kingdom, Denmark, Canada, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland. The disbursements would help keep this year's budget on course in the face of deficit fears and increasing concerns from government quarters that donors would not honour their pledges. The disbursement of GBS funds for the 2008/9 Budget was delayed by differences between the Government and donors on governance and corruption issues. But the differences were resolved when the Government promised to deal with corruption head-on. Several prominent individuals have since been charged with abuse of office. But the government's revenues from tax and non-tax sources have been dwindling. The just-ended 14th parliamentary session approved the Sh53 billion recovered from individuals implicated in the External Payment Arrears (EPA) account scandal to be incorporated in the current budget. In the first half of the current financial year, Tanzania Revenue Authority's revenue collection targets have fallen short by 6.42 per cent. TRA collected Sh2.1 trillion between June and December 2008 against the projected Sh2.2 trillion. The global economic downturn also sparked fears that donors might not be able to honour their GBS pledges. Bank of Tanzania Governor Benno Ndulu told MPs in Dodoma that global recession would result in reduced financial assistance to poor countries like Tanzania. But local economists said aid to poor countries from the developed nations was equivalent to less than 0.03 per cent of their gross national incomes and could thus not be affected by the recession. The outgoing British High Commissioner, Mr Philip Parham, also recently told the Management Forum in Dar es Salaam that Britain would do everything possible to ensure aid to poor countries was not reduced or halted during the recession. "There will be a G20 conference in London in April and the British Premier has promised to use that forum to plead the case for poor countries," he said.