Dar es Salaam. The government yesterday tabled its budget for the Works, Transport and Communications ministry seeking to extend implementation of development projects in railways, roads and communications.
Construction of the new standard gauge railway (SGR) that already started is still the ministry’s top priority in terms of financing, with the project getting the lion’s share of the development expenditure.
The SGR budget for 2020/21 is Sh2.0 trillion: about 43 percent of the ministry’s Sh4.6 trillion development budget.
Air Tanzania Company Ltd - which is also on the priority ist - will have Sh450 billion to be used in purchasing new aircraft for the carrier.
Out of the Sh4.7 trillion budget, the Works sector will receive Sh1.6 trillion, while Transport and Communications will get Sh3.15 trillion and Sh15 billion respectively.
This is according to the budget proposals presented by minister Isack Kamwelwe.
Apart from the railways, Mr Kamwelwe also outlined some roads, marine and airport projects which will benefit from the next budget expenditure.
“The ministry has achieved a lot in terms of infrastructure, communication and transport development in comparison with the targets we set in the ruling party’s manifesto in 2015,” said Mr Kamwelwe.
This is the final ministry budget under the first term of President John Magufuli ahead of the General Election next October.
Mr Kamwelwe said the government constructed a total 2,624.27 kilometres of roads at tarmac level while 2,501 villages were provided with telecommunication services during the period.
The Parliament’s infrastructure committee congratulated the government for prioritizing on infrastructure especially the railways.
“We are happy and satisfied by the way the government is releasing the funds for the railways since 2016,” said the committee chairperson, Moshi Kakoso.
According to him, a total of Sh8 trillion have been released so far for the construction of the SGR that the government is upgrading.
Tanzania, as many other countries in the world, has been affected by coronavirus outbreak which has forced many airlines to ground plane flights.
Recently, the civil aviation authority announced to stop all international passenger airlines as part of the measures to curb the spreading of the viral pandemic.
However, Mr Kamwelve was optimistic that the number of passengers would increase by 6.5 percent to 5,845,382 by June 2020 from 5,487,679 passengers recorded in 2018/2019.
He said ATCL was playing an important role in transporting the passengers within and outside the country and was optimistic that the numbers will increase.
On the other hand, the committee was concerned with the release of funds to airport projects which it said was not satisfactory.
For instance, the team states, out of 13 airport projects whose budget was approved by the Parliament in 2019/20, only four of them had received the financing.
The minister said Tanzania has also managed to register 37.67 million simcard subscribers after the government embarked on biometric listing.
The number is part of 43.9 million subscribers who existed in Tanzania, according to Mr Kamwelwe.
He said some 5.0 million subscribers had been closed while 6.1 million others were waiting to be shut by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) in collaboration with the mobile operators.
However, the committee said the government in collaboration with the National Identification Authority should accelerate registration of Tanzanians who have no IDs as I noticed that some people were registering using other people’s cards.
Mr Kamwelwe said Tanzania Telecommunications Corporation (TTCL) had registered a profit after tax of Sh6 billion in 2018/19 and that it will issue dividend after internal arrangements were done.
However, the committee said TTCL operations were generally not satisfying as it experienced low capital, investment which did not match the technological development, and failure to face the market competition.
Mr Kakoso also said the government still owed TTCL to the tune of Sh30 billion by March 2020.