Local govt authorities under fire from grassroots citizens MASATO MASATO THIS DAY Dar es Salaam MOST Tanzanians at the grassroots level remain unsatisfied with the way local government authorities are using public resources and unimpressed by financial information provided by such authorities, new research findings have shown. Even though the government has invested heavily in the Local Government Reform Programme aimed at strengthening local authorities for effective service delivery to communities, the citizens still say the reforms have had no impact on their lives. Presenting their interim findings at a Research on Poverty Alleviation (REPOA) workshop in Dar es Salaam yesterday, researchers Bahati Geuzye and Hugh Frasier said over 75 per cent of respondents expressed outright dissatisfaction over the spending of public resources. According to the dissatisfied respondents, it is not clear how these resources are used, since the projects executed tend to yield poor quality outputs, some projects have not even been completed, and there is a strong suspicion of corruption linked to the funds. Reporting to council executive directors and raising complaints through suggestion boxes, media channels, public meetings, and even as far as State House are cited as some of the actions the dissatisfied citizens normally take to try and rectify matters. But according to the research findings titled: About 89 per cent of the respondents said their concerns have never been taken seriously even after taking these actions. The findings report says only 4.3 per cent of the respondents reported any action being taken, while seven per cent said they never bothered to follow up on their complaints. The research was aimed at gauging the effectiveness of financial accountability at local government level, and covered 10 randomly selected districts; Kinondoni, Mkuranga, Bagamoyo, Tanga, Lushoto, Kilosa, Kibaha, Korogwe, Morogoro, and the Dar es Salaam City Council. Some 810 Tanzanians participated as respondents. The researchers also concluded that financial transparency in the local government authorities (LGAs) is inadequate, with only a small portion of citizens getting access to financial information released by the councils through noticeboard displays. They said a good number of respondents had recommended the use of public-private partnership mechanisms to disseminate key information: For instance, non-governmental organizations dealing with agriculture could be used to disseminate agriculture-related information, the report added. Recommendations put forward by the researchers for improved financial accountability include strengthened planning and budgeting, improved incentives to councilors and council staff, and increased support from the central government.