Slaa: Too many questions surround new TIB boss FINNIGAN WA SIMBEYE THIS DAY Dar es Salaam CONTROVERSY continues to dog the surprise appointment of senior Bank of Tanzania (BoT) official Peter Noni as the new head of the state-run Tanzania Investment Bank Limited (TIB). The deputy leader of the official opposition in parliament, Dr Wilbrod Slaa, was yesterday the latest personality to question the governments choice of a new managing director for the public bank, describing it as very controversial. He said the fact that Noni was in charge of the central bank department that oversaw dubious payments from the external payment arrears (EPA) account was enough to raise serious questions about his background. Slaa, who is secretary-general of the opposition CHADEMA political party and legislator for Karatu Constituency, insisted that the government could have opted for a less controversial person to fill the TIB chief executive post. The problem of recycling the same people in top positions despite their questionable backgrounds was there during the Mwalimu Nyerere era because at that time there was a shortage of qualified experts. But thats not the case today...we now have tens of thousands of qualified Tanzanians to hold such portfolios, he asserted. He said Nonis appointment also brings up a lot of ethical questions, given that the government has said part of the 63bn/- recovered from the stolen EPA funds has been placed in the custody of TIB. It is ironic that the same person who ran the BoT department that administered the EPA funds in the first place, is now made new boss of TIB, he remarked. Further voicing concern over Nonis credibility to head the TIB given such a background record, Slaa said he had been suspicious from the time when Noni was appointed as BoT director of strategic planning and performance review, after being transferred from the central banks directorate of economic policy. I find it quite bewildering that this same individual can now be promoted to become TIB boss, he stated, remarking that there is a need for such government appointments to key public positions should always be beyond such suspicion. Stressed Slaa: This is a man who worked at the BoT department through which the EPA funds were stolen...and has now been promoted to a top job at a sensitive bank which has been given the responsibility of managing the recovered EPA money. We can only wonder how and why this is so. Central bank insiders say Noni was part of the inner circle of the late BoT governor Dr Daudi Ballali, and is believed to be intimately familiar with the workings of the EPA account where more than 133bn/- was looted during 2005/06. According to a statement from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, President Jakaya Kikwete appointed Noni as MD of the TIB effective from May 27 this year. He replaces former TIB chief William Mlaki, who has reached the statutory retirement age. At the time of his new appointment, Noni was director of strategic planning and performance review at the central bank. Previously, he served as BoT director of economic policy, where he was among key central bank officials involved in the processing of payments from the EPA account. In January this year, Noni appeared before the Kisutu Resident Magistrates Court in Dar es Salaam as a prosecution witness and testified against three former BoT officials facing criminal charges in relation to the EPA embezzlement scandal. The ex-BoT officials on trial in the case are Ms Ester Mary Komu, Imani David Akim Mwakosya, and Bosco Ndimbo Kimola. An audit report by Ernst & Young named several senior BoT officials who held the following positions between June 2005 and July 2006 as being directly or indirectly involved in the EPA scandal: The governor (Ballali), director of finance, secretary to the Board (two different officers served in this capacity during the stated period), director of economic policy (two different officers served in this capacity during the period), deputy director of the debt department (two different officers served as DDDD during the period), and head of bilateral and commercial debt. The audit report uncovered that the BoT debt department, which falls under the directorate of economic policy (once headed by Noni himself), was responsible for the management of the EPA debts. During the period reviewed in the audit, the department was headed by its deputy director (DDDD), Ms Esther Komu, who took up the position in June 2005. Reporting to Ms Komu was the head of bilateral and commercial debt (HBCD), Imani Mwakosya, who held the position for a number of years.