Restore budget credibility, experts urge

Thursday June 14 2018

Kigoma Urban MP Zitto Kabwe (ACT-Wazalendo)

Kigoma Urban MP Zitto Kabwe (ACT-Wazalendo) speaks in Parliament. PHOTO|FILE 

By Ludger Kasumuni @TheCitizenTZ

Dar es Salaam. While the government planned to spend Sh31.7 trillion in the 2017/18 financial year, that target is unlikely to be attained at a significant level – prompting analysts to call upon the government to restore credibility to the national budget through realistic planning.

Speaking to Business Week recently, business analysts and economists voiced criticisms against the government’s tendency to repeatedly tread over the same old ground when formulating successive national budgets.

One observer – the member of Parliament for the Kigoma-Urban constituency, Mr Zitto Kabwe – said experience has shown that the national budgets that were formulated in recent years have not been realistic and otherwise credible.

To make his point, the MP said that there was a gap of 40 per cent in the FY-2016/17 national budget, as the government was able to raise only 60 per cent of the set budget of Sh22.4 trillion.

In the FY-2017/18 budget, the government had increased targeted revenue collections from Sh22.4 trillion to Sh31.7 trillion.

But it ended up collecting only 75 per cent of the projected amount! “We need to make the national budget realistic.

I am happy that the government has realised that embarrassing shortcoming – and has this time made the small increase of 2.5 per cent over the previous year’s budget,” Mr Kabwe stated.

According to him, implementation of local government budgets is worse than what takes place at the central government level. “I have been attending budget sessions at my constituency in Kigoma.

Usually there are complaints that most of the projects budgeted for have not been implemented because the budgeted funds are not forthcoming,” he said.

In most cases, local government budgets face a shortage of otherwise budgeted funds by anything up to 60 per cent, the MP lamented.

An independent financial analyst, Mr Ngamela Ndibalema, told Business Week that the problem of formulating incredible budgets is not of the current regime alone. The problem has been there since four decades ago, he asserted.

“Government budgets should be supported by strict rules so that they are formulated in accordance with the demands of the moment, of the citizens. If a budget does not correspond with the amount spent, it is not only unrealistic; it is also not credible,” said Mr Ndibalema.

In presenting the findings on an ‘Open Budget Survey’ for Tanzania, an economics researcher, Mr Godfrey Bonaventura, said the country’s national budget has never been realistic because most of the implemented projects are nearly always never assessed by the legislators.

That notwithstanding, however, the minister for Finance, Dr Philip Mpango, has already given the highlights for the FY-2018/19 budget, whereby the government projects to spend Sh32.4 trillion.

Some Sh22 trillion of the projected revenue – which is 68 per cent of the total budget – is projected to come from domestic sources, the Finance minister revealed.