Government moves irrigation commission

Saturday May 18 2019

Agriculture minister Japhet Hasunga. Photo

Agriculture minister Japhet Hasunga. Photo |Ericky Boniphace. 

By Louis Kolumbia @Collouis1999 lkolumbia@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. The government has shifted activities of the National Irrigation Commission (NIRC) to the Ministry of Agriculture from the Ministry of Water.

Agriculture minister Japhet Hasunga told the Parliament in Dodoma yesterday when tabling the ministry’s 2019/20 budget that the decision was among reasons for surging of its budget to Sh83.65 billion.

The minister requested the Parliament to endorse Sh253.85 billion which is Sh83,65 billion up from Sh170.2 billion endorsed in the 2018/19 fiscal year.

“The NIRC has been allocated with Sh37.48 billion out of Sh253.85 billion budgeted by the ministry,” he said.

The government’s decision is in line with stakeholders’ outcry that NIRC should be shifted to the ministry of Agriculture due to notable inefficiency when it was under the ministry of Water.

Though, Mr Hasunga didn’t give reasons for the decision, but stakeholders are of the view NIRC was greatly affected by the obligations of the Ministry of Water to supply citizens with clean and safe water for domestic consumption.

However, the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) audit report for 2017/18 underscored several challenges that faced the sector under the year of review including underfunding, understaffing and a shortage of working tools.

“Due to unreliable mode of funding to NIRC, the irrigation offices in zones changed their priorities, planning and conducting feasibility studies were given low priority,” reads part of the CAG report.

The CAG report says for the past four years from 2014/15 to 2017/18 development partners financing contributed about 89.6 per cent of the total funds disbursed to irrigation projects.

“The approved budget for the last four financial years were dominated by donor financing. The trend shows an increase in donor financing from Sh19 billion to Sh47 billion from 2014/15 to 2015/16 followed by a decline from Sh47 billion to Sh15 billion in the financial year 2017/18,” CAG report reads in part.

However, report shows that donors did not meet full obligations and that between 2014/15 and 2017/18 donors’ commitment was Sh110 billion but they only disbursed Sh19.4 billion. The approved government financing declined from Sh15 billion to Sh6 billion from the financial year 2014/15 to 2017/18, the CAG report reads in part, adding that the funds were not released as approved.

But, yesterday, Mr Hasunga said out of Sh37.48 billion allocated for NIRC, Sh32.5 billion will be used for funding development projects and Sh4.98 billion will be used for concurrent expenditures.

“According to him, Sh208.04 billion has been allocated for agriculture activities out of which Sh143.57 billion for implementing development projects and Sh64.46 billion for concurrent expenditures.

Mr Hasunga, who doubles as the Vwawa MP on the CCM ticket, said the Tanzania Cooperative Development Commission (TCDC) has been allocated with Sh8.32 billion of which Sh6.12 billion will be used for salaries and Sh2.19 billion for the Other Charges (OCs).