Nearly half the parastatal organisations whose accounts were scrutinised by the Parliamentary Parastatal Organisations Committee in 1986 were loss making the National Assembly was told recently. The loss making institutions included the Tanzania Railways Corporation which lost Shs 110 million in 1982; Mwanza Textile Mill, Shs 87.2 million in 1984; the Sugar Development Corporation Shs 39 million in 1985; Musoma Textile Mill Shs 28.3 million in 1984; Tanganyika Planting Company Shs 19.8 million in 1985; and the Kagera Regional Trading Company Shs 15.9 million in 1983.

Profit making parastatals included the National Bank of Commerce with a profit of Shs 405.1 million in 1985, the Bank of Tanzania Shs 303.1 million in 1985; Tanzania Harbours Authority Shs 45.5 million in 1983; Aluminium Africa Shs 29.1 million in 1984; Arusha Regional Trading Company Shs 29.1 million in 1984; and Tanzania Elimu Supplies Shs 29 million in 1983.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance, Economic Affairs and Planning, Mr. Cleopa Msuya, has been telling a ‘Workshop on Public Enterprises’ in Dar es Salaam that the public sector had grown from 43 parastatals in 1967 to 421 today.

He said that out of the 707 establishments in the industrial sector employing 10 or more people 196 were wholly or partially state owned. He spoke of the deficits in certain parastatals as being a matter of grave concern and said that they were suffering from inexperienced management, over-extended involvement, over-employment, failure to adjust to changing circumstances, financial problems, inefficient working practices and inappropriate technologies.

Mr. Msuya noted that in the UK nationalised businesses were being privatised, in the Soviet Union a policy of ‘Perestroika’ was being evolved and in China ‘open door’ policy had been adopted.

In Tanzania loss making enterprises like sisal estates had been sold and others closed or merged – Daily News

This problem of loss making parastatals became the subject of a subsequent article in the Sunday News by its satirical writer, Adam Lusekelo.

‘Why can this be?’ he asked. ‘Frankly I don’t know’ he wrote. ‘You ask the guys who are supposed to be in the know and they mutter something about socialism.

But then, who said that socialism means losses, inefficiency, embezzlement and nepotism? It’s stuff like this that gives socialism a bad name.

But should the parastatals be allowed to bleed the Treasury of a cool 2.5 billion bob? .. For example the money could be used by the Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Nyatis to increase the number of anti-poaching game rangers from 100 to 1000 and provide them with decent tracking equipment.

Again, do we need the loss-making paras? Of course we need them – otherwise they would not be there. Besides, they are pretty to look at. 141 loss-making paras means 141 prosperous looking general managers. 141 loss-making paras means platoons of marketing managers, legions of glamorous looking secretaries and other staff half of whom are relatives of the big boss. Long live the extended family.

Which is why I decided to approach one of the general managers to ask him why his para was making a terrible financial loss and still surviving …….
“We lose money, yes, but that is because of sabotage, imperialist propaganda, lack of inputs and … ,”
“Lack of foreign exchange” I finished the song.
“Good man. This is what I always say. Newsmen have a role to educate the masses. Now if you know that my para doesn’t have foreign exchange then the masses will know …….. ”

So I shifted to new ground. “The accountability thing. You remember Sir?”
โ€œof course I remember.โ€
“Are you going to take full responsibility for the losses?”
“Of course I will”.
“So what are you going to do? Resign or beg forgiveness?”
“Who! Me? Resign? You are bonkers. Never leave your job in Tanzania. What I will do since I am the top boss – I am going to write a strongly worded letter … to myself. I will warn myself that the habit of losing government money should stop forthwith …. and, to pay for my sins, I will not drink more than four beers a day at the club ….. compared with my usual twenty. I am sure that that is punishment enough even in this age of accountability …..โ€

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