PARLIAMENTARY MATTERS

The National Assembly’s 1990/91 Budget session began on June 5th in Dar es Salaam. The Assembly faced 885 questions from members and debates on all the different ministerial budgets. On its first day it voted to shorten the session by two weeks to give way to the Presidential and Parliamentary electoral process which was due to commence in August. The first stage, registration of voters began in August rather slowly and there were signs in some parts of the country of apathy.

In the Budget debates the Ministry which had the toughest time was the Ministry of Communications and Works. Debate took the House to the verge of dissolution as member after member put the government to task over transport problems in various parts of the country. Three MP’s threatened to block the estimates and one called for the resignation of the Minister, Dr Pius Ngw’andu. The Member for Sumbawanga withdrew a shilling from the Ministry’s vote demanding an explanation as to why the government had again shelved a plan to put tarmac on the road Tunduma-Sumbawanga-Mpanda. The Minister had explained that he proposed to improve the gravel on the road. At this stage, Prime Minister Joseph Warioba intervened and said that, under the regulations of the House it was too late to introduce a token vote whereupon several member’s said that the Parliamentary Regulations would have to be amended. After a weekend to cool off, the Member was asked by the Speaker whether he had now changed his mind. He replied “No”. At this stage the Attorney General was called in to explain the rules. The House decided to approve the Ministry’s estimates less one shilling in order to establish a token vote. The Prime Minister then explained that the House had rejected the Budget by its actions and that meant that the House had to be dissolved.

At this stage the Speaker set up a Party Committee which met behind closed doors. When the Members came together again in the evening it was stated that the Minister had agreed in writing to improve the road and the unhappy Member thereupon withdrew his objections.

During other debates, among the many suggestions made by Members were the following:

– Radio Tanzania should become independent;
– the ban indirectly imposed by Archaeologist Margaret Leakey on further research at the Olduvai gorge should be lifted;
– Ambassadors should be vetted before their appointment;
– there should be clarification on the criteria used by the government to determine coffee prices;
– prices of drugs at private pharmacies should be controlled;
– the government should cease to call for frugality;
– financial resources should be directed to help small farmers or they would disappear from the economic scene:
– delays in implementing Parliaments’ recommendations should cease.

Ministers announced that:

– installation of a television network for the mainland is expected to start in 1991;
– the government has increased prices for the main crops as follows:

Arabica coffee Shs 65.55 (old price Shs 55)
Robusta coffee Shs 60.50 (Shs 55)
SG cashewnuts Shs 110 (Shs 84)
UG cashewnuts Shs 73 (Shs 56)
Tea Shs 28 (Shs 17)
Pyrethrum Shs 120 (Shs 60)

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