The government should not shy away from making hard decisions on scrapping sitting allowances given to MPs and civil servants to reduce expenditure. This was said yesterday by the leader of official opposition in Parliament, Mr Freeman Mbowe. He also urged the government to sell all vehicles used by its officials and instead give them loans to buy cars of their choice. Speaking shortly before the Sh13.5 trillion national budget was approved by Parliament yesterday morning, the Hai MP said the argument against sitting allowances should not be taken as the position of a political party but as a matter of national interest. If we scrap sitting allowances we will be doing this nation a big service, Mr Mbowe, who is also Chademas national chairman, said when debating the budget speech. Many MPs opposed doing away with the allowances because they were also beneficiaries, he said. But this eroded their moral authority to control huge unnecessary expenditures in government ministries, departments and institutions, Mr Mbowe said. He continued: I know of some government departments which give themselves up to Sh1 million each for a single sitting and they do this because we, legislators, also accept sitting allowances. He explained that because there was money involved civil servants spent most of their time in seminars, workshops and travelling instead of serving the nation. The issue is not about the amount of money given to MPs and government officials, but the issue is unproductive allowances policies, which encourage sleaze, laziness and less productivity in the government machinery, he said. He wondered: The argument that allowances are allocated according to the law does not hold water. We can, and we should, change that law which wastes the scarce resources of this country. We do change a lot of laws in the Parliament, why not that one? He stressed that the whole allowance policy in the country needed a review.The opposition was aware of the high cost of living, which has been used to justify allowances, but life was costly to all Tanzanians, not to MPs and senior civil servants alone, he explained and went on to say: If the issue is about inadequate salaries well, let us deal with that accordingly and in a transparent manner. There is no need of compensating small salaries with discretionary allowances and questionable expenditures. We are not saying that all allowances should be scrapped. Our position is that sitting allowances and similar kinds of allowances which are paid to people who are fulfilling what should be their daily responsibilities, should be scrapped. On government vehicles, Mr Mbowe, who is also entitled to one as the leader of the official opposition, proposed that all of them, except for national leaders, should be sold and the money be used to buy ambulances for hospitals. The president is driven in an SUV; so is the Prime Minister, ministers, regional and district commissioners, district executive directors thousands of civil servants are entitled to these very expensive cars, why? he asked. He said civil servants should be given loans to buy cars of their choice. These cars should also be used to carry out their daily duties instead of purchasing thousands of expensive new cars that cost the government a fortune. The Tanzania government is the sole buyer of new cars in the country, according to Mr Mbowe, while the rest, including businessmen and diplomats have used vehicles which are cheaper. We complain that we are a poor nation, but we live and conduct our affairs expensively. This is a contradiction, he said.He also scolded government officials for having a habit of flying in business class which costs six times as much as the economy class. Diplomats from some of the countries that give Tanzania aid travel in the economy class, but our government officials cannot do that, he added.