THE country risks forfeiting more than 225bn/- in foreign investments with potential of creating 20,000 direct jobs due to government's failure to spend 26bn/- in compensation for land earmarked for the investments. Director General of the Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) Mr Adelhelm Meru, told the Industry and Trade Parliamentary Committee that investors from the United Arab Emirates, China and Turkey have expressed burning desire to invest about 150 million US dollars (over 225bn/-) subject to land availability. "We are losing investors and denying Tanzanians job opportunities. We are also forfeiting huge export earnings for failure to invest properly," Dr Meru said, noting that though his agency had already earmarked vast tracks for investors, it has failed to compensate local area residents. The agency requires 15bn/- for land compensation in Bagamoyo as well as 5bn/- and 3bn/- for Tanga and Ruvuma, respectively. "I'm currently scared of travelling to Mara region where I had mobilised people to surrender their land for investors -- they now want 3bn/- compensation." He decried peanut budgetary allocation to the agency, saying the government should take it as top priority as it holds the destiny of the national economy. Dr Meru said out of the 14bn/- that the authority requested for the 2009/2010 financial year, the parliament approved 8bn/- only but the government released a mere 5bn/-. "This financial year is the worst," said Dr Meru. "We presented a budget of 80bn/- but only 5bn/- was approved and as we speak now, my office has received only 2bn/-. In this situation, the country will not achieve much in the EPZ programme." Dr Meru decried poor infrastructure as one of the most serious challenges that the authority faces, hinting that all the existing export processing zones were fully occupied, with more investors still asking for space. Specialised skills that majority investors are looking for were also in short supply in the country, compelling investors to operate with difficulties or import skills which are expensive, the EPZA boss said. The committee members expressed concern over the slashing of budgetary allocation, with the Chairman, Mr Mahmoud Mgimwa, vowing to take up the issue with higher authorities." Once the budget has been approved by the parliament it becomes your right which nobody has the authority to deny." Since its establishment some four years ago, EPZA has attracted investors through whom the country has earned over 300bn/- in exports of goods as well as creation of thousands of jobs.