Poverty recipe for unrest, warn MPs


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Jan 23, 2008
Hivi kweli JK na wapambe wake wa karibu wanaliona hili au kwao umasikini wa waTZ ni jadi?

Poverty recipe for unrest, warn MPs

2008-06-19 09:36:35
By Lusekelo Philemon, Dodoma

Members of Parliament have expressed fears that the economic hardships millions of Tanzanians are experiencing will lead to widespread social unrest in the near future if left unchecked.

Debating the estimates of the 2008/09 Government Budget in the National Assembly here yesterday, they talked of a looming economic depression in the world which they said would not spare poor countries like Tanzania.

Charles Keenja (Ubungo) of the ruling CCM noted that many Tanzanians were living in abject poverty and were especially awkwardly placed.

``Life for many ordinary people living in urban and rural Tanzania is in an appalling state, while there is no hope that the situation will normalise any time soon,`` he said.

He cited what he called living examples from his constituency, saying the prices of goods and services stand at twice the level they were at some two years ago.

�In urban areas many people are forced to make do with a single meal a day, which impedes healthy growth and is therefore unacceptable,� he added.

Keenja, a one-time Agriculture and Food Security minister, advised the government to seriously embark on improving the agricultural sector ``for the country to have the capacity to produce more food crops and have greater food security``.

``My fear is that there is a great possibility of famine striking and triggering social and economic unrest unless the situation is addressed before it is too late,`` he said.

Namtumbo legislator Vita Kawawa, also representing the ruling party, observed that fuel and food price hikes were shaking the world economy to the roots. He called on the government to take immediate measures to save the country from the catastrophe the situation could end in.

Special Seats` MP Magdalena Sakaya from the opposition Civic United Front expressed �serious reservations`` over the government�s decision to grant tax relief to Moto Poa Ltd, local suppliers of the ethanol, dyestuff and thickening agent used in the production a burning gel.

She said there was no way the move would help the majority of the dirt poor wananchi, most of whom are rural-based.

``This decision cannot relieve people from the energy crisis they are facing because Moto Poa is limited to urban areas and very few people know about, let alone use, the items it supplies,`` she pointed out.

Another CCM legislator, William Kusilla (Bahi), said the proposed 2008/09 budgetary allocation for agriculture was too little to bail out small-holder farmers.

�Many of our small-holder farmers are leading appallingly miserable lives, most literally from hand to mouth. They are thus unable to contribute as significantly to the national economy as applies to the other sectors,� he said.

Meanwhile, Lazaro Nyalandu (Singida North - CCM), told the House that many people have been complaining over �the deplorable state of most basic services�.

``Having people who keep complaining to the government about the problems facing them is very dangerous. People are complaining that the government is deliberately favouring investors. This trend must be reversed immediately,`` he said.

Moshi Urban MP Philemon Ndesamburo (Chadema) expressed ``profound surprise`` at what he called the government`s tradition of relying on higher taxation on beer, soft drinks and cigarettes for increased revenue whenever it is time for a new budget.

�The government has been announcing hikes in tax on beer, soft drinks and cigarettes since my days as a young man. This is a weakness. The government has failed to widen the scope of taxes,� he said.

Another ruling party legislator and former cabinet minister, Wilson Masilingi (Muleba South), made an impassioned appeal to the government to turn down any assistance from the country`s development partners that came with abhorrent conditions.

``Some of this assistance comes with highly objectionable conditions that end up humiliating our nation,`` he noted, without giving any names.

The MP talked of reports of donors giving government officials repulsive conditions for supporting the 2008/09 budget, saying that was outright unacceptable.

He said he saw completely no reason for the government to accept assistance meant to arm-twist, manipulate and embarrass the nation.

Elaborating, Masilingi cited an incident when government officials holding talks with would-be donors in Dar es Salaam were given several conditions to meet before any aid funds were released.

He said the donors wanted the government to make sure that all former ministers who resigned recently over corruption allegations were taken to court and jailed.

``This is unacceptable. We cannot dispatch people to jail just because of pressure from donors,`` he said, adding: �The government should not accept money attached with offensive conditions.``

Contributing to the debate, Bariadi East MP John Cheyo (UDP) called on Finance and Economy minister Mustafa Mkulo, who tabled the budget estimates on Thursday last week, to give more details on the conditions given by the donor community in connection with the incoming budget.

He said it was of paramount importance for the government to be transparent on the conditions given by the country�s development partners.

In her remarks, CCM legislator Rita Mlaki (Kawe) challenged the government to widen the scope of investments, chiefly in the industrial sector ``which contributes enormously to the country`s economic development�.

Debate on the budget estimates started on Monday and is scheduled for wrapping up tomorrow.

SOURCE: Guardian
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