2008-12-22 10:37:00 We'll give luxury cars the axe: PM Mr. Pinda By Mkinga Mkinga THE CITIZEN The Government plans to introduce major fiscal changes in the next financial year that would substantially reduce the number of expensive vehicles bought by the State. Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda told The Citizen in an exclusive interview that he was concerned about civil servants preference for expensive luxury four-wheel-drive vehicles. He said the vehicles did not only cost a lot of money, but were burden to run and maintain, adding that the cash could be put to better use, particularly in rural areas. Mr Pinda said the Government would from next year drastically reduce the number of expensive vehicles it bought for its officials and funds that would be saved in the process would be chanelled to agriculture projects, with the purchase of tractors being given preference. He said Tanzania could not record desirable achievements in agricultural programmes unless tough decisions were made in some areas. "And that is what I was saying when I met with permanent secretaries. I was wondering how many tractors can be bought with the cash used to purchase one (Toyota Land Cruiser) VX," he said. He said if the Government stopped buying luxury vehicles even for one year and the funds directed towards agriculture, the results would be "tremendous". "The impact would definitely be quite big because we will expand our agriculture, reduce the burden on the farmers and attain food security. What is needed here is the will to make such a decision," Mr Pinda said. He said, however, that the decision to stop the purchase of the vehicles could not be implemented now as orders for 800 cars had already been placed with the manufacturers in Japan and deliveries were expected to begin soon. The prime minister said he told permanent secretaries that thing would be different from next year. "My message to them was that I am going to take a different position next year. We seriously need to look into this. I don't think that someone is going to die if he does not ride in an expensive luxury vehicle, but if you don�t get food, then it immediately becomes a problem." A top-of-the-range four-wheel-drive vehicle can cost up to Sh150 million, which means that the Government has spent not less than Sh12 billion for the 800 cars ordered from Japan. This is enough to buy 1,714 small tractors retailing at Sh7 million each. Each of Tanzania Mainland's 21 regions stands to get not less than 80 tractors, while each district would get at least 10 tractors. Mr Pinda said positive changes would be attained in the agriculture sector and the lives of ordinary Tanzanians would improve if ministries heeded his directive. "I am glad that my plans have the support of His Excellency President Jakaya Kikwetehe is also committed to ensuring that we improve our agriculture." Mr Pinda said tractors would add value to the Agriculture Sector Development Programme (ASDP), which has entered its third year of implementation. He said he had learnt during his ten months in office that Tanzania's lives could change for the better if all the available resources were well managed. "It is a question of having practicable programmes in the right places. We have the Agricultural Sector Development Programme at the moment, jointly funded by donors and the Government. It looks like a good programme, but farmers want to see results. They want to get fertilisers and good equipment for agriculture. They want to have good research centres that can help them operate effectively," he said. Read the full interview with Mr Pinda in Wednesday's Political Platform magazine.