On September 9 this year, the Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved the disbursement of $567.25 million (about Sh1.304 trillion) to Tanzania “to help the country finance its urgent balance of payments (BoPs) needs arising from the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The financing package comprises $189.08 million (Sh434.884 billion) released under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF), while the $378.17 million (Sh869.791 billion) was released under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI).
Both RCF and RFI were created under separate programmes, and at different times, to make IMF’s financial support more flexible and better-tailored to the diverse needs of its low-income member-countries.
According to the IMF, “Tanzania is in urgent need of a balance of payments support equivalent to about 1.5 percent of its gross domestic product as the authorities implement a comprehensive plan to mitigate the effects of the pandemic – and also preserve macroeconomic stability in the face of a reported third wave of the virus…”
To that very noble end, the government – acting though its Minister for Finance and Planning, Dr Mwigulu Nchemba – released its expenditure plans for the timely IMF loan. This was at the launch in Dodoma on Sunday of the “Development Campaign for National Welfare and the Fight against Covid-19”.
In all fairness, the government must be commended for planning to spend the money on a broad spectrum of all-inclusive developmental activities in pivotal socioeconomic sectors – including health, education, water, energy and Union matters on both sides of the Zanzibar Channel.
How wise, we heartily say. But, we also caution against any and all forms of misappropriation or misuse of the funds – be it through criminal intent, incompetence or sheer negligence – as it is the Tanzanian taxpayer who ultimately bears the burden down the line.
We fully support President Hassan’s zero-tolerance stance against misappropriation/misapplication of the IMF funds – always advocating their prudent, judicious application in value-for-money terms.
REVISIT SCHOOL TRANSPORT
The issue of transportation of children to and from school is once again in the news. The matter was brought to the fore a fortnight ago when police in Mbeya flagged down a 14-seater “school bus” crammed with 50 schoolchildren.
For many years, children have been ferried to and from school using improper means of transport. While there are schools that have acquired school buses for that purpose, some have opted to take a shortcut by hiring daladalas in which children are often packed like sardines.
Some parents hire motorised tricycles, popularly known as bajajis, to take their children to and from school. While bajajis are designed for a maximum of three passengers, it is no longer unusual for the vehicles to carry up to ten pupils per trip.
As if that is not bad enough, motorcycle taxis, also known as bodabodas, are now widely used to transport schoolchildren. In cities such as Dar es Salaam, is it not uncommon to see bodabodas cruising along while carrying as many as four children behind the driver.
Schools should be compelled to acquire proper school buses. The law should come down like a tonne of bricks on those turning daladalas into makeshift school buses.
Parents and guardians, on the other hand, should not endanger the lives of their loved ones by hiring bajajis and bodabodas – whose safety record is not exactly exemplary – to take them to and from school.