Analysis conducted by The Chanzo on the budget of the President’s Office. Regional Administration and Local Government (PO-RALG) has revealed that while the ministry is performing well in several areas, several shortcomings need to be addressed.
The budget of the ministry, which accounts for 21% of the entire government budget for the financial year 2023/24, was presented to parliament on April 14, 2023, a total of Tshs 9.14 trillion shillings, which is a four percent increase compared to that of the 2022/23 fiscal year.
In its analysis, The Chanzo looked at six important areas, including health, education, Rural and Urban Roads Agency (TARURA), nutrition, social welfare, oversight, and other institutions under PO-RALG.
The Chanzo used grades A to D to show the effectiveness of each area, with A being very good, B+ being good, B being average, C being unsatisfactory, and D being poor. The basic criteria used were the allocation of funds in the previous year, the budget allocated for the priority areas of the relevant sector, and finding solutions to critical problems facing citizens in specific sectors.
Health – A
In health, The Chanzo gives the ministry A grade, using the criterion of an increase in the health infrastructure budget from 73 billion shillings to 86.5 billion shillings. There is also an increase in the medical equipment budget from 69.95 billion shillings to 116.9 billion shillings.
In the previous budget year, there was a lot of health infrastructure construction, this came with an increased challenge of medical equipment and professionals, making some new health centers and clinics unused. By increasing the budget for medical equipment government is responding to an immediate problem.
Another criterion that led The Chanzo to give the ministry A is the satisfactory disbursement of funds. Analysis shows that by February 2023, 86% of the budget for the financial year 2022/23 was disbursed.
However, in its analysis, The Chanzo noted that in the budget report, there are some expenditures that the ministry did not explain well. One of these expenditures is the 44.8 billion shillings for the Project to Strengthen Referral Services and Quality of Primary Health Care.
These funds are planned to be used for contract employment for 300 workers, referral services for mothers and children, and monitoring primary health care facilities. To improve accountability, The Chanzo believes that the ministry will need to provide more information on the specific areas that will benefit with this funds.
The Chanzo gives the ministry a B grade in oversight. It is an undeniable fact that local government authorities in the country have been improving, especially in revenue collection. In the 2021/22 fiscal year, for example, local government authorities exceeded the collection target, reaching 891 billion shillings from a budget of 873.9 billion shillings.
However, there are challenges in the use of funds, including the absence of investment policies at the council’s levels, incorrect use of POS machines, and revenue losses as shown in the report by the Controller and Auditor (CAG) for the 2021/22 fiscal year.
For instance, the CAG report shows that Dodoma invested over 10 billion Tanzanian Shillings in a hotel project without a proper business feasibility study. Even in its implementation, the system used by Dodoma, including the rental pricing, does not guarantee the sustainable profitability of the project.
In oversight, some hopeful areas include the new TAUSI system, which manages various council payments. However, this system is still in its early stages, and some citizens are complaining of occasional inconveniences, such as not getting payment numbers or control numbers, and the system not being available at certain times.
Education – B
In the area of education , The Chanzo has given the ministry a B this is due to a decrease in the budget for school infrastructure. While the budget for school infrastructure reached approximately 560 billion shillings in the year 2021/22 and 324 billion shillings in 2022/23, it has dropped to 104.5 billion shillings for the 2023/24 financial year.
Additionally, the budget trend shows that despite the known need for education and an increase in the number of students, the ministry still appears to lack a permanent strategy for addressing challenges with school infrastructure, teachers, and school supplies. A large portion of the education development budget still relies on development partners.
Areas where the ministry has continued to perform well according to The Chanzo’s analysis include student enrollment and the disbursement of school subsidy funds.
In terms of infrastructure, the ministry has allocated 37 billion shillings for the renovation of old schools. The dilapidation of many older schools is a concern for many citizens, and these issues have also been brought up in Parliament by some lawmakers.
Social Welfare and Nutrition-C
The Chanzo has given the Ministry C for social welfare and nutrition. In the area of nutrition, the Ministry has been graded C due to the fact that the amount allocated by the Ministry for nutrition is only 158.48 million shillings for a food and nutrition improvement program aimed at improving the health of children living in high-risk environments. The budget does not show any specific plans for 2023/24.
In the area of social welfare, the Ministry has also been graded C. One of TAMISEMI’s responsibilities is to oversee and coordinate matters related to social welfare at the regional and local government levels.
According to the CAG report (2021/22), one of the factors contributing to the increase in incidents of gender violence is a shortage of staff in the area of social welfare. For example, 62 officers are needed in the regions, but only 36 are available.
Local governments require 1,969 officers, but only 467 are available, and there are no officers at all at the village and neighborhood levels.
The CAG also shows that there is an unsatisfactory budget allocation for social welfare, with some areas facing major challenges of violence having a small budget. The Ministry has not explained its plans for social welfare in the 2023/24 budget.
TARURA – B
In its assessment, The Chanzo has given the ministry a grade of B in the area of TARURA due to the fact that despite an increase in the budget, there are still some funds that did not reach TARURA as per the budget plan, which contributes to incomplete implementation.
One area that is relied upon in this budget is a regulation that TARURA will prepare to explain how funds for district road construction will be distributed. This regulation is expected to reduce complaints, particularly in areas that are not regularly reached.
Other Institutions – C
The last area is the management of other institutions. The Ministry of Local Government and Regional Administration (TAMISEMI) oversees seven institutions, including TARURA, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), the Local Government Training Institute, the Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit Agency (DART), the Kibaha Education Centre (KEC), the Local Government Loans Board, and the Kariakoo Market Corporation (KMC
In this area, The Chanzo has given the ministry ‘C’ because these institutions still face significant challenges, including mismanagement of funds and poor accountability of its executives.
For example, in the 2021/22 fiscal year, DART found itself in debt of 8.45 billion Tanzanian shillings, and the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) attributed the debt to weak management.
Regarding the Kariakoo Market Corporation, the ministry had reported last year that some important documents were claimed to have been destroyed in fire by executives of the corporation.
However, the budget report has not been able to explain whether the documents were recovered and what other measures will be taken to increase accountability and safeguard public funds in these institutions.
Citizen engagement in promoting accountability
It is undeniable that many efforts have been made to ensure proper use of government funds in local government authorities, but there is still a lot of work to be done.
One thing that can strengthen accountability, especially at the grassroots level of government, is to build citizens’ capacity to participate directly in the management of government resources and projects at their level. This can be achieved by continuing to provide regular information and ensuring that the performance of local government authorities is transparent.