2009-04-16 07:41:00 WB official urges Govt to address power shortage urgently By Damas Kanyabwoya THE CITIZEN The Government needs to move fast to install the 250 Megawatts gas-fired Kinyerezi power plant to solve the ongoing erratic power supply problem in the country. This was said in Dar es Salaam yesterday by the World Bank's country director, Mr John McIntire. He told reporters at a media roundtable that the Tanzanian Government should move very fast to complete other similar projects. It should also make enough investments in electricity supply and distribution to ensure businesses operate smoothly at this time of economic hardships. He said doing business now is becoming more and more difficult allover the world. He said the country's installed power capacity was less than 1,000MW. This was too little for a country like Tanzania with a population of about 34 million people. Immediate investments in power projects would also contain a possible power crisis in future. The Tanzania Electricity Supply Company (Tanesco) has already made it clear that it needs more than Sh1.5 trillion to execute an expansion plan on power generation, transmission and distribution over the next five years. Its managing director, Dr Idris Rashidi, recently said the power system master plan in the country predicts a possible shortage in the period up to 2012 if the current electricity generation system continues. "Donors are ready to help in these new investments in power generation and supply and distribution improvement, provided that these investments are financially sustainable and the pending court cases are resolved," he said. He said to facilitate donor assistance in further investments in energy some policy changes and reasonable tariff adjustments were necessary. Meanwhile, the Wold Bank yesterday expressed its confidence on the Tanzania Government�s efforts and commitment to fight grand corruption. It promised to keep the aid commitment to the country solid amidst the financial crisis. Mr McIntire said the Tanzania Government deserved praise for its unusually vigorous measures it took in the past year to curb graft. |"The Government deserves our praise� actions, such as firing the central bank governor, taking ex-ministers, senior and even junior officials to court, are unusually vigorous measures anywhere� including even in developed countries such as the US," he said. He said the WB's aid commitment for the 2008/09 and the next two years would be met despite the ongoing financial crisis. About $2.1 billion has been set aside as loans for a three- year period for various Sub-Sahara African countries. This year Tanzania expects to get about $615 million, and already $115 million has been approved. About $500 million would be approved by June, but the money has to be approved project by project. As far as corruption is concerned, Mr McIntire said more could be done to fight it and tame the vice once and for all. He shrugged off the idea that the Government was fighting corruption to appease donors. These had made it clear that they would not release aid funds unless the Government showed commitment in fighting corruption. "The long term fight against corruption depends on Tanzanians themselves and not outsiders. We will come and go, but Tanzanians who will always be there should take the fight head on," he declared. He pushed for the establishment of a public system that would enable wananchi trace how every cent mobilised for the Government, whether as tax or aid, was used. "The system should enable you as a journalist or anybody else to go to a website, for example, and be able to see how much money was allocated for which projects. You can then follow up to see if the projects were actually executed," he said. The high profile crackdown on graft started in earnest last year after an audit commissioned by the Government. It revealed that about Sh133 billion was siphoned out of the External Arrears Payment Account (EPA) of the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) in the financial year 2005/06. This led to the dismissal of the late BoT governor, Mr Daudi Balali, early in 2008. Soon after the Government launched a campaign to recover the looted funds, and managed to recover more than Sh50 billion. Early this year some senior BoT officials and businessmen were arraigned in connection with the EPA scandal. A former permanent secretary and two ex-ministers were also taken to court for allegedly misusing their offices and causing losses in billions of shillings. On the global financial and economic crisis, Mr McIntire said the World Bank would do everything possible to help Tanzania mitigate its effects. This includes contributing to some kind of a stimulus package to help banks whose loans to farmers would be affected. "The Government is rolling out a programme to help banks recover the loans they had extended to farmers who now cannot repay due to falling cash crops export volumes and value," he said.