By Mwinyi Sadallah 27th March 2011 Zanzibar First Vice-President Maalim Seif Shariff Hamad Zanzibar First Vice-President Maalim Seif Shariff Hamad (pictured) underwent surgery on both knees in the famous Apolo Hospital in India recently but his ailment remained undisclosed. Seif who jetted into Zanzibar airport on Friday had left the Isles on February 7 with an 11-person delegation, the rest of whose members returned earlier. At the airport, First Vice President Hamad briefed reporters on his engagements abroad, as well as the medical treatment. He said he felt better after the surgery and expected to bounce back to full health fitness after three months. Maalim Seif, who started experiencing pain in both knees in April last year, said he would return to India for medical check-up after six months. The vice president said the trip to United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Oman and Holland would help facilitate economic reforms, especially in free economic zones, education, water and employment sectors. He said the countries expressed willingness to cooperate with Zanzibar in strengthening the economic sector, including strengthening and improving fish factories. I did not go to Las Vegas to gamble or to relax. Whenever you want to succeed in anything you must spend some money. Its my hope that this tour to these countries will be beneficial to all Zanzibaris, he said. The comments were in response to public concern that much money was being spent in financing allegedly wasteful leaders tours abroad. He said in UAE, Oman and Qatar he met leaders and businesspeople, including those of Tanzanian origin who promised to lend a hand at strengthening the economic sector and fight poverty. Giving an example, Maalim Seif the UAE government promised to assist Zanzibar in implementing the programme of constructing a Free Port, including sustaining Free Economic Zones in Unguja and Pemba, a sector that, he said, was crucial to the Isles economy. He said the seventh phase Zanzibar government was determined to develop and sustain all Free Economic Zones as the areas would help open business doors in the Isles. The first vice president urged Zanzibar not to count the cost if they really wanted to bring economic changes in their country, saying in todays world people live under the principle of Give and Take. Maalim Seif, who also doubles as Civic United Front ( CUF) Secretary General, told reporters that development partners promised to assist Zanzibar to solve its long standing problem of water shortage. Meanwhile, food inflation will continue to hit Zanzibaris as a result of several factors, including piracy on Indian Ocean, the surge of fuel prices and climate change. Currently, Zanzibaris are facing hard times due to food inflation that has manifested itself in food items such as rice, sugar, wheat, beans and cooking oil. For example a kilogramme of beans now sells at Sh 1800 up from Sh 1300, while rice grade B commonly known as Mapembe now sells as Sh 1200 up from Sh 800. A kilo of wheat has increased from Sh 900 to Sh 1200 while sugar sells at Sh 2000 as opposed to Sh 1000 a kilo just before general election. An official of the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Juma Ali Juma, said the trend was worrying as it seemed to be persisting rather than easing.