Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here with a rundown of major news stories reported in Tanzania on Tuesday, June 22, 2021.
Lawmakers approve Tanzania’s Sh36.6 trillion budget
Members of Parliament yesterday approved the government budget for the 2021/2022 financial year by 94 percent with only 23 lawmakers, an equivalent of six per cent, abstaining from the vote. No one voted against the Samia Suluhu Hassan Administration’s first budget, which Speaker of Parliament Job Ndugai called “unprecedented” in the history of the lawmaking body.
Finance and Planning Minister Dr Mwigulu Nchemba unveiled the Sh36.6 trillion budget on June 10, 2021. The budget introduced fiscal and non-fiscal amendments aimed at promoting an inclusive and competitive economy that attracts private sector investment and increased employment opportunities by improving tax collection and administration as well as an overall business environment.
Earlier, while convincing lawmakers to approve the government’s budget, Dr Nchemba elaborated on the controversial airtime levy where he said that mobile phone users who spend Sh1,000 on airtime and below will pay only Sh5 in tax which will be levied when he/she tops-up the airtime. For those who spend between Sh7,500 and Sh10,000 in airtime, Dr Nchemba said they will pay Sh76 in tax. Those who spend between Sh10,00 and Sh25,000 will be charged Sh112 in tax while those who spend Sh50,000 will be charged Sh186.
Highlighting another highly controversial proposal that introduced a tax on mobile transfers as well as a daily charge for the use of a SIM card, Dr Nchemba said that the government was forced to come up with the proposal as part of its efforts to find money that would fund its development projects.
Meanwhile, former Controller and Auditor General (CAG) Mr Ludovick Utouh has pointed out that there is a need for the government to take deliberate actions to make its 2021/2022 budget easy to implement. These includes the need to diversify government’s sources of revenues, improve Tanzania’s relations with development partners so that it can benefit from aids from those countries as well as avoiding borrowing money from commercial banks and instead consider applying for concessional loans.
Mr Utouh, who doubles as the executive director of the Wajibu Institute, a local non-governmental organisation that champions public accountability, presented the recommendations on June 16, 2021, during a press conference in Dar es Salaam.
“Another recommendation concerns the amendments of the Public-Private Partnership Act, 2010, in order to accomplish the implementation of the recommended budget,” said Mr Utouh. According to him, if the law remains unchanged it will be difficult to get partners who can contribute money to fund the government’s development projects though he never clarified how.
Mr Utouh also suggested that the government make public all accountability reports released by public accountability organs like the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), the Office of Treasury Registrar and the Ethics Secretariat. Mr Utouh said he does not see any reason why reports from these organs should be treated as confidential while CAG reports do not.
For a perspective and how both the airtime levy and the tax on mobile transfers and the charge for the use of a SIM card is going to hurt Tanzanians as well as stifle innovation and digitisation in Tanzania, you can read an analysis by our contributor Tony Alfred, Tozo za Laini na Miamala ya Fedha Zinafuta Maana ya Tanzania ya Kidigitali. You can find more facts about Tanzania’s 2021/2022 budget from The Chanzo by checking out this thread on Twitter.
Journalists covering Sabaya’s case claim to be threatened
Arusha Press Club (APC), an umbrella body that represents journalists from the northern region of Tanzania, said in a statement on Tuesday that it has received reports from some of its members who cover the case of former Hai district commissioner Mr Lengai ole Sabaya that they have received calls from anonymous people who threatened and intimidated them in an attempt to make them stop following up on this high-profile case in Tanzania.
Mr Sabaya and his five accomplices appeared before the Arusha Resident Magistrate’s Court on June 4, 2021, facing six charges which included armed robbery, money laundering, economic sabotage and seeking and receiving bribes.
According to APC chairperson Mr Claud Gwandu, some people whose identities could not be immediately established visited the home of one journalist who covers Mr Sabaya’s case five times but they were unable to find the journalist whose name was not released. Mr Gwandu said APC perceived these actions as “open threats against journalists who fulfill their duty of informing Tanzanians” on what is happening in their country.
Gwandu urged journalists not to be deterred by the threats, insisting however that they should maintain the highest level of professionalism while undertaking their day to day responsibilities as journalists.
MNH imposes new measures to curb the spread of COVID-19
If you’re planning to go to Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH), whether in Upanga or Mloganzila, make sure that you have your facemask on or otherwise you’ll be turned back. This is according to a statement released yesterday by MNH’s Head of Communications Mr Aminiel Aligaesha who briefed journalists on the hospital’s latest measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the country. The directive targeted patients, workers, students and members of the general public.
MNH’s emphasis on the wearing of face masks and following other measures to control the spread of coronavirus in Tanzania comes within a few days since the government said that Tanzania faces the third wave of COVID-19, warning its citizens to take all necessary precautions to combat the spread of the global pandemic.
Addressing journalists in Dar es Salaam on Saturday, Director of Prevention from the Ministry of Health Dr Leonard Subi said: “The ministry reminds all citizens not to ignore COVID-19. The ministry has begun to see indications of the occurrence of the third wave. This is due to the monitoring being carried out by the ministry and the interaction between our people and other nations.”
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