Saturday, June 19, 2010

Engage women in active politics, parties urged

Political parties have been urged to engage women in elective politics by enhancing their roles in identifying and interpreting main gender issues. The United Fund for Women (UNIFEM) coordinator, Ms Fortunata Temu, said in political parties women’s access to key decision making organs and leadership roles is relatively low compared to their male counterparts. Addressing a workshop in Dar es Salaam recently, she urged political parties to sensitise women on gender issues during elections. She said the move would increase their understanding of national, regional and international commitments and obligations related to women’s participation and representation in key decision-making organs at all levels. Ms Temu explained that the role of women in political parties is a key determinant of their prospects for political empowerment at the national level. She said political parties were central in shaping and influencing women’s participation and representation towards attaining the threshold ratio of 50-50. She noted that since the re-introduction of multi-party politics in the country all leaders of the 18 fully registered political parties are men except in the Tanzania Democratic Alliance (Tadea). A representative from NCCR-Mageuzi, Mr Faustin Sungura, said women’s access to national leadership has been very low, both in elective and non-elective posts, within and outside political parties and government institutions. He attributed this to the political parties’ reluctance to nurture them. “Only 18 women, representing 7.9 per cent, were directly elected in the electoral process, meaning that 90 per cent of women MPs were obtained through an affirmative process,” said Ms Temu.
Participants in the workshop agreed that women should be accorded more support than now to enable them gain confidence and esteem to vie for political and other leadership posts. The workshop focused on gender issues in relation to women’s participation in competitive politics; patterns and trends of women’s representation in key decision making; the quota system for women in politics and legal mechanism for promoting women’s access to decision making.

Tucta sticks to Sh250,000 minimum wage

The Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (Tucta) has challenged the government to increase the minimum salary to Sh250,000 in the coming fiscal year as to reduce income poverty among workers. Speaking to reporters on behalf of the Union’s acting general secretary, Mr Sylvester Rwegasira, said the current minimal wage of Sh104,000 was not enough compared to the actual economic situation. Mr Rwegasira, who is also the secretary general of the Tanzania Railway Workers’ Union (TRAWU) was presenting Tucta’s general analysis of the 2010/2011 budget tabled in parliament recerntly. In 2006 Tucta had suggested a minimum wage of Sh315,000, but the government responded by only increasing the rate to Sh104,000.
Last month, Tucta issued an ultimatum for a countrywide strike to press for workers’ rights, including the minimum wage of Sh315,000. According to Mr Rwegasira, Tucta is continuing with negotiations with the State ministry, President's Office, Public Service Management, on the three basic workers’ demands.
“Tucta officials are still engaged on negotiations with the government to raise the minimum wage to at least Sh250, 000,” said Mr Rwegasira. The Tucta demands were centered on three main issues: Improvement of pension schemes, reduction of high income tax rates and increase of the minimum wage.
Commenting on the pension schemes, Mr Rwegasira said the budget did not provide solutions on how to improve workers’ retirement benefits. “The budget has talked about improving workers’ social welfare but you cannot talk about welfare without ensuring better retirement benefits,” The union has also criticized the government decision to reduce income tax by only one per cent, saying the decision would not benefit low income earners. Mr Rwegasira said Tucta has suggested an income tax reduction of at least ten per cent, compared to the reduced amount of 14 per cent of the total gross salary beginning next month.

Government creates three new regions

The government will create three new regions and several districts, divisions and councils, the Prime Minister, Mr Mizengo Pinda, announced in Parliament recently. The decision, which aims at easing administration of the vast country, will increase the number of regions in the country to 29 from the current 26. One of the new regions, according to the Premier, will be known as Njoluma, comprising Njombe, Ludewa and Makete districts, which are currently parts of Iringa Region. The second new region would be known as Simiu, which will be carved out of Shinyanga Region and the third one will be Geita Region.

Tanzania's Prime Minister Mr. Mizengo Peter Pinda during parliamentary debate sessions in Dodoma.

Announcing the decision in the august House, Mr Pinda said talks on the establishment of Mpanda Region and the upgrading of Arusha Municipality into a city status were in progress. Reports indicate that the cost of establishing a region stands at between Sh4 and Sh6 billion, while the cost of establishing a new district is about Sh1 billion. The costs arise from the construction of headquarters, financing of running of the new administration centre, creation of essential infrastructures and from hiring of new civil servants. Mr Pinda announced the government’s decision to create the new administration areas while winding up his budget speech in the House.

He enumerated some of the proposed new districts as Butiama in Mara Region, Mbogwe in Rukwa Region and Nyang'wale and Ushetu in Mwanza Region. Others are Kwela and Bulele in Rukwa Region, Kaliua and Ikungi in Singida Region, Kalambo, Ushelu and Gairo in Morogoro Region, Mkalama and Nyasa in Ruvuma Region and Uvinza in Kigoma Region. According to the Premier, the government also intends to establish new district councils of Kaliua, Uvinza, Kakong'o, Kalambo and Mkalama. Others are Nyasa, Nyang'wale, Kahama, Masasi and Lindi. The minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, in-charge of Regional Administration and Local Government, Ms Celina Kombani, however, said no budget had been set aside for the new regions and districts in the 2010/11 financial year. Ms Kombani explained that the new administrative areas were not incorporated in this fiscal year’s budget because of ongoing process of demarcating them. She assured wananchi in those areas that they would participate in the demarcation process before decisions to be reached are sent to President Jakaya Kikwete for his blessings.

Swedish envoy leaves with hope in Tanzania

Sweden`s Ambassador to Tanzania, Staffan Harrstrom, has said he ends his tour of duty soon with “optimism and very fond memories of this fantastic country and its wonderful people”. He made the remarks in an exclusive interview with The Guardian in Dar es Salaam recently, expressing “a strong wish that the commitment to the quest for lasting peace and tranquility in Zanzibar through the formation of a government of national unity will be maintained”. He noted that the first thing that often comes to his mind as he reflects on his three-year stay in Tanzania is the search for sustainable peace in the Isles. “I am hugely encouraged by the reconciliation process in Zanzibar, and I am saying this openly because this has been a major concern during my whole period here,” the envoy, who is due take up a similar post in Vietnam on September 1, pointed out. He added: “One message I have for Tanzanians as I leave before the October General Election is that I sincerely congratulate the political leaders on their decision to seek reconciliation and unity. To me, that is part of a political solution for Zanzibar that gives influence to both the winning and the losing side. This is the concept of a government of national unity.” Ambassador Harrstrom said his hope was that all the parties committed to the reconciliation process in the Isles “will continue all the way so that, through that, we see free and fair and therefore peaceful elections because I think peace is key to the future development of Zanzibar”. He meanwhile also called on the Union government to speed up action on a set of six reform commitments aimed at improving various aspects of the nation, including the social and economic development front. “I feel that Tanzania needs to speed up implementation of business climate and other reforms if it is to be able to fight poverty better. And I think the co-operation between the five East Africa states such as opening up borders, opening up for trade - will help stimulate that kind of reform and in turn improve the living standards for ordinary Tanzanians,” he said. Elaborating on some of the other salient developments he has noted while in Tanzania, Harrstrom said: “I have seen within these three years development of domestic accountability, including the revitalisation of the National Assembly (parliament) and its oversight role. I think that is, and will be, one of the most important driving forces of the change needed.”

Bulk fuel importation set to start September

Government`s programme of bulk importation of petroleum products is expected to start any time from September, this year. Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA) Director General, Haruna Masebu, revealed this in Dar es Salaam recently when addressing editors. The energy and water utility watchdog said all necessary regulations to support enforcement of laws on bulk oil importation are ready. “We are just waiting for the responsible minister to sign the regulations so that the law for bulk oil importation can be implemented,” said Masebu. EWURA had already communicated with Kurasini Oil Jet (KOJ) to expand the facilities for the storage of oil that would be imported in bulk.

Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority Director General Haruna Masebu briefs editors in Dar es Salaam recently on measures the agency is undertaking to curb with the perpetrators

The authority had given KOJ six months to complete the expansion. Bulk oil importation is one of the government strategies to curb wild fluctuation of fuel prices instigated by dishonest oil dealers. Consumer fuel prices in the country are expected to drop by between 15 and 18 per cent when the new bulk oil procurement and importation system becomes effective. Meanwhile, EWURA yesterday said the newly announced hiked fines against oil traders who would adulterate petroleum products will become operational after being gazetted. However, he said fines have more than doubled. The fine against first time offender has increased from 3million/- to 7million/-. Repeated offenders who previously were fined 5m/- would now pay 25m.Third time offenders would lose their trade licences. Wholesalers who repeat the offence had been previously paid 10 m/- as fine, but now the figure has been increased to 100m/-. A trader who repeats the offence for the third time, would lose the trading licence or forced to pay a fine of 100m/-. The authority has also introduced fines for transporters, with first time offenders paying 7m/- while repeated offenders would pay 15m/-.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The challenges of ICTs in Tanzania

THE advent of Information Communication Technology (ICT), particularly the use of internet has posed a challenge on how to harness it to most developing countries including Tanzania. “The challenge calls for the competitive and well-informed Business community that can compete in the business world of globalization,” said Science and Technology Deputy Minister Dr Maua Daftari while opening a training on fundamental concepts of E-security issues for on line knowledge towards ICT security and the best preventive practices to secure organizations and personal systems from the hackers and bad guys. The six-day training was organized by Offshore Development Centre (ODC) Center LTD in corroboration with the International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants (EC-Council) EC-Council of the United States of America.

Maua Daftari being interview by a local television media

This therefore introduces a number of logistical problems especially in the manner in which the change process is to be managed worldwide and therefore an urgent call for well-trained and competent ICT experts to tackle emerging cyber crimes through e-security. Dr Daftari said as the developed countries celebrate and cash in on the immense opportunities created by the advent of the Internet, the challenge for the third millennium is how to harness the benefits of the information revolution for the world's poorest of the poor. In order for the countries like Tanzania to fully benefit from these new opportunities they must have the requisite skills, tools as well as the relevant infrastructure, whose information can be delivered by partnerships and its competent members like ODC Center LTD and EC-Council of the USA. The world has hitherto, been divided between the rich and the poor. The advent of the new information era has added yet another divide i.e. the digital divide. Unfortunately, for Africa and the rest of the poor world, the Digital Divide is threatening to place nations that fall behind at a permanent and more grievous disadvantage in the new Internet based economy. She said there is great need to thank President Jakaya Kikwete for the efforts in harnessing the expansion of Tanzania Fiber optic inventions.
“Had it not been for their desire and craving for technologies, I don't know what kind of history we would be writing today,” she added. For the case of Tanzania for example, the process is on the initial stages, more technical assistance needs to be extended to cover up the gaps, which may be created in the course of implementing this programme.

Prime Minister chats with defense officers

THE Prime Minister, Mr Mizengo Pinda (right), chats with the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Said Mwema (left), and the Chief of Defence Forces, General Davis Mwamunyange, after the Bunge session in Dodoma on Thursday. (Photo by Daily News on courtesy of PMO office)

Zanzibar beach hotels eye top world tourism award

shakers’ who will vie for World Travel Awards scheduled to take place on July 7, this year at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa. “This is Africa’s finest night for tourism,” said Graham E. Cooke, Founder and President of World Two Tanzanian hotels based in Zanzibar will be among twelve hundred of Africa’s key ‘movers and Travel Awards. Presentation of the awards is scheduled to take place at 5pm – but guests will not miss out on the crucial match! A giant screen will show the FIFA World Cup Semi Final immediately after the ceremony, it says. Elaborating on Africa nominees, he said African nominations include the ‘crème de la crème’ of the region’s travel and tourism. South Africa Airways, Air Namibia, Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, and Royal Air Maroc are fighting it out to take the title of Africa’s leading airline. In the running for Africa’s leading beach hotel Camps Bay Retreat; Diaz 15 in South Africa; La Gemma Dell’Est Zanzibar in Tanzania; Lagoon Beach Hotel, South Africa; Peponi Hotel Lamu Island in Kenya; The Bay Hotel, South Africa and The Z Hotel Zanzibar in Tanzania are among those contesting, he said. The fight for Africa’s leading business hotel title is also going to be a knuckle-biting affair, he said adding that nominations range from Alexandria, Four Seasons, Conrad Cairo, Mena House Oberoi and Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza in Egypt; Hilton in Durban, Sandton Sun and The West in Grand Cape Town Arabella Quays in South Africa. As the fastest growing industry sector, there is also keen interest in cruising and Africa’s leading cruise line category: African Safari Club; Discover Egypt Nile Cruises; Sakkara Travel Group; Silverseas Cruises; Sonesta Nile Cruises and Travel Dynamics International are among the listed businesses. The biggest struggle though will be among the 12 leading hotels anxious to win the coveted title of Africa’s leading hotel. Nominees for this much sought after category are: Camps Bay Retreat and Cape Grace of South Africa; Four Seasons Hotel at the First Residence, Mena House Oberoi Hotel & Casino, Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at the Nile Plaza and Grand Hyatt Cairo of Egypt; Kasbah Tamadot, Marrakech, Morocco; Mount Nelson Hotel, Saxon Boutique Hotel & Spa, The Palace of the Lost City and The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa of South Africa. In addition to overall Africa categories, there are awards for Botswana, Cape Verde, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. A report issued by the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) on Wednesday said that the gathering for the Africa and Indian Ocean countries ceremony will include chief executive officers and directors of some of the region’s leading travel firms, government officials as well as industry association leaders. Many will have their fingers crossed – hoping they are among the elite to sweep off one of the prestigious world travel awards, described as the ‘Oscars’ of travel and tourism, a the report quotes one tourism official as saying. According to the report, “It’s a once-a-year opportunity to recognise the exceptional quality, creativity and leading edge performance of Africa’s top operators.” During the past few months, industry professionals have been voting worldwide for the African companies and brands that they believe deserve the honours, it says, noting that voting was closed on June 7. In the World Travel Award, African nominees are among 5,000 nominated companies spread across 1,000 categories, including airlines, cruise companies, destinations, resorts and hotels in 162 countries. World Travel Awards, established 17 years ago, is the only global organisation encouraging improvement and development of travel and tourism with consumers using the awards as a benchmark of quality and winners receiving significant commercial benefits from the honour.

EA Nations Intensify Focus On Foreign Bonds As Aid Dwindles

Kenye, Uganda and Tanzania are turning to financial markets to finance their budgets, including the sale of sovereign bonds, as the European debt crisis forces governments to slash spending and curtail aid to Africa. The three East African nations are under pressure to lift investment to help sustain economic growth that is forecast by the African Development Bank at 6 per cent in East Africa this year, the fastest of any region on the continent. Kenya and Tanzania are considering selling their first global bonds in the fiscal year beginning July 1, while Uganda may follow Kenya’s lead in issuing domestic infrastructure bonds. “Aid is mostly on the decrease as donor countries find themselves in serious trouble,” said Ridle Markus, Africa strategist for Barclays Plc’s Absa Group Ltd. in Johannesburg. “We’ll be looking for how these East African countries can fund their budgets given fiscal pressures.” UK Prime Minister David Cameron is planning the deepest public-spending cuts since the 1980s to rein in a deficit that ballooned to more than 11 per cent of gross domestic product in the year through March. Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged on June 7 to trim 81.6bn euros (USD97.7bn) in federal spending between 2011 and 2014. Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy have also announced austerity measures. “We gradually want to get rid of the donor dependency syndrome,” Tanzanian Finance Minister Mustafa Mkulo said on June 2. The government plans to cut foreign loans and grants to about 25 per cent of fiscal spending in the year through June 2011, from 39 per cent this year, he said. Uganda expects budget support grants and loans to drop to 790bn/- (USD345m) next fiscal year from 1.06trn/- this year, according to the budget estimates issued on May 21. Kenya, the biggest economy in the region, revived a plan this year to sell an international bond of USD500m to fund renewable energy projects. Tanzania also plans to raise the same amount in a Eurobond sale in 2010-11, Mkulo said on Jan. 28. Uganda’s central bank Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile has said the country is unlikely to sell bonds abroad. “Deficits have crept up gradually and in Uganda and Tanzania there’s been a decline in donor aid,” David Cowan, a sub-Saharan Africa analyst at Citigroup Inc., said by phone from London on Thursday. “A trend we’ll see in all three budgets is significant deficits and how they plan to finance that.” Government debt levels are low enough to give the three countries room to seek external funding.

Mustapha Mkullo, Tanzania'a Minister for Finance and Economic planning. This was durimng the busget day in parliament in Dodoma.

Kenya’s government debt was 44.7 per cent of GDP at the end of last year, Tanzania’s was 37.1 per cent and Uganda’s was 22.2 per cent, said Cowan. “Kenya can still borrow to finance growth,” Nikhil Hira, head of tax at Deloitte LLP’s East Africa unit, said in an interview in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, on Thursday. Budget deficits in the three countries will probably reach between 4 per cent and 5 per cent of GDP in the year beginning July 1, said Cowan. Kenya’s shortfall probably climbed to 6.2 per cent this year, Uganda’s reached 2.4 per cent and Tanzania’s eased to 5.1 per cent, according to estimates from the International Monetary Fund. Kenya may raise additional funds by selling stakes in state-owned units, such as Kenya Commercial Bank Limited. and Kenya Power and Lighting Company., said analysts including Yvette Babb at Standard Bank Group Limited. in Johannesburg. Expanding the electricity supply is a priority for all three countries. Tanzania, Africa’s fourth-biggest gold producer, needs USd2bn to help boost power capacity over the next five years, according to Energy and Minerals minister William Ngeleja. Only 14 per cent of the population currently has access to electricity, according to the minister. Kenya scheduled power cuts between Aug. 6 and Oct. 22 last year after low water levels at hydroelectric dams cut capacity to about 30 per cent. The government plans to build power plants to generate 1,500 megawatts by 2019. “Growth is picking up and will probably stay strong,” said Cowan. “But then you run into the electricity shortages again, which brings you back to the infrastructure story and the need to invest more. The budgets will concentrate on infrastructure spending and agriculture.” Kenya’s economy will probably expand 4 per cent this year and 5 per cent in 2011, the World Bank said on June 3. Tanzania’s economy will probably grow 6.7 per cent next year, up from 6.2 per cent in 2010, while Uganda’s growth is forecast to accelerate to 6.4 per cent from 5.6 per cent, according to the IMF.

Calls for mechanism to broaden revenue base

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance and Economy of Tanzania has endorsed the proposed 2010/2011 national budget tabled on Thursday 10th 2010, saying it will help stimulate the country’s economy. Tabling the committee’s economic report for the 2009/2010 fiscal year and suggestions on revenue collections and expenditures for the financial year 2010/2011 in parliament yesterday, the Chairman, Dr Abdallah Kigoda gave full endorsement of the budget proposals. The Handeni legislator (CCM) and former finance minister said however, that there were areas that needed to be rectified in order to have a budget that would ensure sustainable development. One vital area was for the government to search for new revenue sources instead of adding tax on luxury goods which at the end become a burden on workers, farmers and the business community.

A member of Parliament for Lushoto constituency, Dr. Abdallah Kigoda on the right with a Minister for Fisheries Dr. John Maghufuli recently during budget session outside the national parliament.
Dr Kigoda said the government should set up a comprehensive tax administration and collection mechanism which was likely to boost the budget. “Adding tax on some of the goods does not bring any relief, but rather a burden to farmers, workers and traders. This would result into high cost of doing business, hence affect our economy”, he said. He said with high tax rates, the government was encouraging tax evasion and corruption. Dr Kigoda challenged the government to control expenditures because it was expected to spend 26.4 per cent of the 2010/2011 budget while revenue collections were expected at 17.3 per cent only. Official Opposition Leader in Parliament, Hamad Rashid Mohamed said the proposed budget would negatively affect the private sector and ordinary citizens. Hamad, who is also a Member of Parliament for Wawi constituency, said this when presenting a substitute budget for 2010/2011 fiscal year. “The budget favours rich people and will adversely affect ordinary citizens,” Hamad stressed, adding that it does not build the capacity for the country to be self sufficient. “We have been advising the government to reduce its size because it results into increased expenditures,” Hamad said, emphasizing the nation’s Vision 2025 was good but that it lacked supervision and was not known to majority Tanzanians. He reiterated the opposition camp’s call to the government to implement development projects through the Public Private Partnership (PPP). For his part, Tabora Urban MP, Siraju Kaboyonga said that Tanzania was a rich country but that the government was yet to properly utilize the available resources including the Dar es Salaam, Tanga and Mtwara ports.

Zitto Kabwe a member of parliament for East Kigoma urban.

He said the three ports, if properly utilized, could boost the country’s economy. Kaboyonga said that infrastructure remained the great challenge to the economy, calling on the government to put extra efforts in ensuring the Tanzania Railway Limited (TRL) became operational. “This country will not have a developed economy if the infrastructure is not improved. We need to put in place good regulations to protect our industries,” said Kaboyonga. Kigoma North MP, Zitto Kabwe (CHADEMA) said the government would have to borrow 23/- in every 100/- it would spend. Kisarawe MP, Athuman Janguo (CCM), said this year’s budget was not development oriented because it had allocated more funds for recurrent expenditures than for development. Janguo said that it wasn’t proper for the government to spend more than what it generated. Kwela MP, Chrisant Mzindakaya (CCM) said it was a shame for the country to continue having a donor dependent budget 40 years after independence. He said a country that survived on donor assistance would never be free, stressing that if the available natural resources were properly utilised, Tanzania could have a self-sufficient budget.