Dodoma. MPs and the parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Water have expressed their dissatisfaction with the development budget allocated to livestock and fisheries, saying it was not released for two consecutive years. When tabling his estimates for 2018/19, the minister for Livestock and Fisheries, Mr Luhaga Mpina, indicated that by April this year no money out of the Sh6 billion allocated for development expenditure in the current financial year was released.
The parliamentary committee and some MPs who contributed during deliberations on the estimates said the trend was not healthy for the development of the subsector.
The committee chairman, Mr Mahmoud Mgimwa, said “it’s like the team’s advice is being ignored.”
“Our committee could not even inspect development projects due to the absence of a budget and that affected parliamentary operations,” he said without mentioning the projects.
Mr Mgimwa was presenting the committee report on the budget of the ministry.
“Allocating financial resources is one thing but it’s more important for the government to release the money to enable the ministry to implement its development projects,” he added.
The committee also said the livestock budget was too small for the sector, which had 30.5 million cattle, 18.9 million goats, 5.56 million sheep and 38.59 million traditional chickens by 2016/17.
“Our advice is that the government should build infrastructure for livestock development, create public awareness on modern breeding systems and create a conducive environment for the private sector to invest in processing industries,” said Mr Mgimwa.
When tabling his estimates, Mr Mpina requested Sh56.45 billion in the 2018/19 financial year with Sh12.1 billion as development expenditure.
Sh5 billion will finance development projects in the livestock sector, while Sh7.1 billion earmarked for fisheries’ development in the next financial year.
Some MPs were concerned by poor state of infrastructure for pastoralists “even though the government milked them through taxes.”
Mr Julius Kalanga (Monduli-Chadema) expressed his unhappiness with the budget trend, saying for four years now the government had not given the sector a single cent, yet it was preventing pastoralists from sell their livestock outside Tanzania even though there was no market locally.
He asked when the government would remove the levies that pastoralists paid when they decided to sell their livestock abroad.
According to him, Tanzania loses about Sh56 billion annually through importation of meat even though it is the second country in Africa with the largest population of cattle.
“My fellow MPs, you may think meat is just food but for us pastoralists it is the basis of our economy. The government has been collecting taxes from pastoralists and animal traders but the money is not going towards improving infrastructure,” said Mr Kalanga.
For 13 years now, the government has failed to address any of the challenges identified in the National Livestock Policy, said the opposition legislator. Mr Kalanga also asked the government to separate farming and grazing areas to facilitate pastoralists as well as stem conflicts between farmers and livestock keepers.
Ms Felista Bura (Special Seats-CCM) supported the budget but was concerned by its trend.
“Just last year, the government collected Sh14 billion from branding animals (cattle) but nothing went towards improving water systems for pastoralists,” said Ms Bura.