PARLIAMENTARY MATTERS

The 12th session of Parliament (covered also in Bulletin No 31) ended on 8th August 1988 with the Prime Minister praising members for having been challenging and having based their arguments on facts. This year’s budget session was the longest yet. It took almost seven weeks but the House had not been meeting on Saturdays as was the case with past sessions. Mr Warioba said that the session had been unique in that, for the first time, the newly instituted Parliamentary Regulations and Procedures had been applied. Contrary to the situation during past sessions when an MP would speak on scores of subjects in the thirty five minutes of debate, MP’s at this session chose one or two subjects and spoke on these with detailed facts and figures.

The Prime Minister cited Mr Samuel Sitta’s (Urambo) contribution to the debate on the estimates of the Ministry of Finance, Economic Affairs and Planning which had been good and challenging to the government. “MP’s should not hesitate to debate in Parliament even when they disagree with the government” he said.

Mr, Sitta had threatened to hold up approval of the estimates of the Ministry because of what he considered to be the exorbitant cost of rebuilding the Bank of Tanzania after it was damaged by fire. The cost was Shs 144,943 million in local currency and Shs 44.5 million in dollars. He further claimed that the Managing Director of the company awarded the contract for rebuilding had a criminal record and that no tenders had been floated. Mr. Sitta said that the foreign exchange to be spent would be enough to supply power to 12 districts, buy drugs and medicines for nine years or complete the Kibiti-Lindi road. Mr. Sitta, who was supported by other members, was only prepared to back down after six cabinet ministers had called him to a meeting outside Parliament and he had been given an undertaking that there would be a report on the matter to the next session of Parliament.

The next session of Parliament was in October 1988. The Minister of State for Finance, Dr. D. Mbogoro, announced that the National Construction Council had submitted a preliminary report on the matter, (which was discussed at a House Party Committee) but that the Council had asked for more time to do a good job. It was agreed to defer the matter until the next Parliamentary session in January 1989.

There was a further lively debate during the 12th session. The Speaker, Chief Adam Sapi, interrupted the Minister for Industries and Trade, Mr. Joseph Rwegasira, at 7.43 pm to announce that it was almost time for the adjournment and that the leader of government business in the House should ask for extra time to enable the Minister to wind up the debate. The Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Mr. Charles Kileo, rose, on behalf of the Minister, and asked for extra time. But when the Speaker asked the MP’s to vote on the motion there was a thunderous “No”. The House was then adjourned leaving a big question mark over the Ministry’s estimates.

The Minister had earlier been trying to explain issues raised by MP’s during the debate. He agreed that distribution of commodities was unsatisfactory but said that this was due to Shortage of transportation facilities as well as problems of liquidity with Regional Trading Companies (RTC’s). For example, rising prices of commodities had prevented RTC’s from purchasing enough stock to meet demand. Sugar prices had more than doubled since 1984/5. “Since it is the RTC which distributes commodities in the rural areas the rising price crippled their financial capability and thus the shortage” the Minister said.

Accepting that inadequate preparations had been made before establishing the Kbagala Sheet Glass factory, Mr Rwegasira said that the factory had no electricity, no water, no roads to allow transport of its products and other infrastructure. As a result, the factory had not been commissioned and some of the electronic equipment in the plant was malfunctioning. He said the equipment would need rehabilitation before the plant began production.

After further explanations and a statement from the Minister that he would not tolerate deliberate mismanagement in parastatals his estimates were finally approved.

Meanwhile the Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Tourism decided that before their estimates were debated they would present to the Speaker an impressive new table and to members of the House a rare treat – a barbecue of eland and buffalo meat. An official of the Ministry told the Daily News that the gestures and timing were in no way connected with the tabling of the Ministry’s estimates on the same day. “We are just implementing some of the Ministry’s projects decided months ago” he said.

Sadly, although the Speaker’s new table was installed, the barbecue never materialised. And MP’s were further put out when they learnt that because of the anticipated arrival of the game meat the canteen that Members use had not ordered any other supplies.

The Bulletin understands however that the estimates of the Ministry were eventually approved!

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