Thursday, 15 September 2011 22:52 Dar es Salaam. The chairman of Parliament's Energy and Minerals Committee, Mr January Makamba, has questioned the government's commitment to ending the longstanding power crisis.Energy and Minerals minister William Ngeleja promised the nation during the parliamentary budget sitting last month that an additional 572MW would be available on the national grid by December as part of the government's emergency plan to ease the crippling power shortage. The pledge is contained in the ministry's revised budget for 2011/12 after MPs rejected the estimates Mr Ngeleja presented in Parliament on July 13, saying the plan did not accord the crisis the urgency it deserves. Mr Makamba, who is also the Bumbuli MP, was among the lawmakers who had demanded that the government comes up with an emergency plan to remedy the situation, and commended Mr Ngeleja when the minister tabled the revised budget detailing the Sh1.24 trillion plan. But speaking in Dar es Salaam during the monthly CEO Roundtable of Tanzania forum on Tuesday evening, Mr Makamba was sceptical, saying there was nothing to suggest that the government had started to implement the plan.He noted, for instance, that it was promised that generators capable of producing 355MW would be installed and commissioned by two firms before the end of the year, but there were no indication that the plan would materialise in the near future. Mr Makamba added that Symbion Power had brought in 205MW turbines, but the firm was yet to enter into a power purchase contract with Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco). The machines were to be installed in phases from this month to December. "We are told that the contract is with Ewura (Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority). At what point does Ewura get involved in the signing of such an agreement?" he queried. He also noted that the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) was expected to have brought into the country generators capable of producing 150MW by this month, but cumbersome and bureaucratic procurement procedures had frustrated it. The MP said NSSF might find the going tough because of its inexperience in the power sector.Mr Makamba added that it was obvious that the procurement of generators would not be accomplished in the promised timeframe, and this meant that it was virtually impossible to have an additional 355MW by the end of the year. He doubted whether NSSF would be able to produce power in the near future. "We can forget about that. I'm told the NSSF plant is in Paris and will take a long time to assemble. We also must take into account the fact that it takes at least ten months for a public institution such as NSSF to undertake major procurements."NSSF was given this opportunity out of patriotism, but I think we have to look at the capacities of our firms as well," Mr Makamba added. On August 13, Mr Ngeleja tabled in Parliament the emergency power plan, which was cautiously welcomed by MPs, who called for prudent use of the billions of shillings budgeted for the strategy. Debating the revised budget, some opposition MPs accused the government of ignoring calls to cut unnecessary expenditure and channel the savings into the plan instead of borrowing from commercial banks at exorbitant cost. Those who voiced their concern included the Leader of the Official Opposition in Parliament, Mr Freeman Mbowe, Same East MP Anne Kilango-Malecela and Mr Makamba. The MPs said experience had shown that emergency power projects were corruption conduits and a burden on taxpayers. "Let this be the last time Parliament is asked to approve an emergency power project," said Mr Makamba. The CEO Roundtable of Tanzania chairman, Mr Ali Mufuruki, invited Mr Makamba to Tuesday's forum to speak about the power and fuel crises, which have adversely affected the business environment. Commenting on fuel, Mr Makamba said there was a problem with the new price calculation formula, which recently sparked a dispute between retailers and Ewura. He added that the shortage caused by the dispute not only inconveniences the public, but also hurts the reputation of fuel dealers in the country.