PARLIAMENTARY MATTERS

The National Assembly has had two sessions since the last issue of the Bulletin. The first, in Dodoma, ran from April 18th to 25th and dealt with three Bills. One established a Planning Commission, the second redefined the words ‘Peoples Militia’ to recognise officially the activities of traditional defence groups such as ‘Sungusungu’ or ‘Wasalama’ and the third provided for corporal punishment for armed robbery, attempted robbery and assault with intent to steal. One MP said that bandits should be hanged. This session also approved the 1988/89 – 1992/93 Development Plan. The Plan emphasises communications and transport (23.8% of all resources), agriculture (18.5%) and industries and Works (19.4%). 49.5% of the resources were expected to come from outside the country.

With Members of Parliament flexing their muscles one year ahead of elections the Government came under heavy fire during the Budget Session in Dar es Salaam. As Minister after Minister stood up to deal with the complaints the refrain was the same. There are no funds. In its efforts to ease this problem the Assembly itself joined in the cost cutting exercise. It suspended several of its rules in a move to save time and cut-down on expenses. The Assembly met for six days instead of five every week, the length of speeches was cut down to 25 minutes instead of 35, the debate on the budget itself was limited to five days and the total period for examining all ministerial estimates was limited to 30 days. It was hoped to complete the budget session by August 5th 1989. The session actually ended on August 9th.

INFORMATION
As usual the debate elicited a vast amount of information on almost every aspect of national life. The following, extracted from the Daily News, represents a small part of this information which was given in response to 740 questions from members:

– crime is on the increase; a rise of 1.7% since last year; total crimes reported – 260,809;

– Tanzania spends 40% of its research funds on agriculture, 25% on industry and 10% on public health;

– 142 people died in 995 accidents involving 1,134 buses last year;

– 7,030 animals (9 species) and 962,624 birds (15 species) were exported between 1982 and 1988 which earned the country US$ 2.42 million; there is a quota for every animal or bird caught so as to avoid the danger of extinction;

– Tanzania’s budget for public health is equivalent to She 8/- per person per annum;

– Tanzania has recently deposited in Britain £1.80 million from the sale of gold by the country’s 29 licensed gold dealers;

– despite an increase in production of 6,200 tonnes to a total of 49,200 tonnes Tanzania’s coffee brought in only US$ 106.00 million last year compared with US$ 145.62 million in 1980;

– Dar es Salaam Region had the highest per capita income (Shs 4,235/-) in the country in 1987; Rukwa had the lowest – Shs 598/-;

– the Government has set aside Shs 240 million in this years budget to support self-help projects;

– during the last three years the Government has imported 9,026 vehicles; this year 4,498 will be imported;

– the price of regular grade petrol went up on July 11th this year from 61/- to 92/-;

– there are 207,534 workers in the private sector;

– 30% of all hospital patients last year were suffering from malaria;

– cooperative unions lost She 531.3 million since 1984 when they were re-introduced; most of this was ‘imaginary entries’ and theft of property;

– production of cotton in the 1989/90 season will be 100,000 bales less than last year (total expected – 350,000 bales); heavy rains have had an adverse effect;

– Tanzania Breweries will produce 6,200,000 bottles of beer this year; 90% Safari and 10% Pilsner;

– 76 foreigners were granted Tanzanian citizenship last year;

– the price to the farmers of fertiliser is heavily subsidised; a bag of urea is worth Shs 1,238/-; the farmer buys it for Shs 496/-;

– a total of 72,000 Mozambican refugees have fled to Tanzania since the outbreak of war with the MNR rebels;

– in 1985/86 Tanzania employed 557 expatriates; this number was reduced to 401 in 1987/88;

– the Government has been losing millions of shillings through fraud and salary double payments; initial investigations have shown that over 20,000 people have been receiving two salaries and many receiving government salaries are not even civil servants;

– there are 106 prisons in the country with a capacity of 21,128; but there are some 39,522 prisoners and detainees in these congested facilities;

THE DEBATES
The Government responded to the need expressed by Parliamentarians for cost cutting in a number of ways:

– transfer of civil servants has been suspended save in exceptional circumstances;
– local duty trips by government officers have been reduced to 60 days annually instead of 84;
– written permission will be needed in future for all air travel;
– university graduates will no longer be guaranteed employment in the civil service except in the case of specialists such as doctors, accountants, engineers and teachers; the government employed 99 of the graduates from last years output of 552;
– 310 Air Tanzania workers are being laid off and six domestic and foreign offices are being closed;
– embassies in the Sudan and Guinea have been closed; the government will no longer pay school fees to diplomats for the education abroad of their children;
– seminars held by parastatals and government departments will in future need the approval of the appropriate permanent secretary; only important seminars will be authorised; organisers must pick the cheapest venue and restrict the duration;
– the number of vehicles used in motorcades for visiting national leaders will be reduced:

The debates covered many subjects and some ministers had a tough time in getting their estimates accepted. In particular, the House had to work overtime and there had to be a vote (26 members voted against) before the Ministry of Communications and Works obtained approval for its estimates. Complaints were many but members were particularly concerned about the Kigamboni ferry problem. The Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Development had a difficult time over his proposal to import sisal decoticators.

BEES AND POWER CUTS
Members of Parliament suffered from some non-political problems during the second session. On June 16th swarms of bees invaded Karimjee Hall but, in no time, workers from the Bee Section of the Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Tourism and the Fire Brigade removed them. On June 28th the session had to be adjourned and the Speaker escorted out of the building by torchlight when the lights went out!

At the end of the session Prime Minister Warioba praised members for their probity during the session. “I have been reading letters in the newspapers which have commended MP’s for their scrutiny of government operations. This testifies to the rule of democracy in our affairs ” he said.

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