The National Assembly had something of a marathon budget session recently. It lasted six weeks. Once again members took advantage of their freedom of expression. A few extracts from the debates:

The Member for Kyela. “Why are interest rates on loans for agricultural purposes so high despite Government’s resolve to promote agricultural production?”
Reply: Interest rates for the agricultural sector are always below those paid by Banks to their clients. Bank clients were paying 24% compared to between 20 and 22% for loans for the agricultural sector. Beginning July 1987 short term loans for villages and primary co-operative societies have been 20% Mid and long-term loans for small village projects have an interest rate of 21%

The Member for Muleba: “What steps is the Government taking to reduce the gap between low and high income earners in accordance with the Arusha declaration?”
Answer: Recent salary reviews were intended to reduce the gap. In 1960 the ratio had been 1:20. Now it is 1:5.9.

The Member for Tarime pleaded with the Government to stop deporting cattle rustlers from the Mara region to Mtwara, Ruvuma and Lindi. The Government was wasting a lot of money on this. “When these people come back after serving their terms they are graduates. It is as if they went to learn new techniques. They should be deported, their property sold, and the Government should let the people of Mara solve the problem themselves by employing ‘Sungu Sungu’ or by killing the thieves”.

The Member for Tunduru suggested that coconut thieves in the Southern regions should be banished to the Mara and Kilimanjaro regions where the crop is not grown.

The Member for Mamtumbo said that since the crop boards had failed to provide the anticipated services to the peasants they were irrelevant and should be abolished.

The Member for Same asked the Government to look into ‘chronic’ problems in certain parts of the country, There were areas which had been facing the same problems since Uhuru – over twenty years ago and solutions were no nearer. He sited communication problems in Same, the mountainous area of which still remained isolated. He also urged the Government to reduce the number of sittings of Parliament because they were “unproductive”.

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