Monday, June 3, 2013

Gvt to blame over Mtwara fracas on natural gas deal, says don

A Senior University Lecturer has blamed the government for its failure to make its plans open to the local government authorities of the southern regions of Mtwara and Lindi over gas exploration project deal, a factor which resulted into misunderstanding between the government and the people. Dr. Haji Semboja the Lecturer at Economics department at the University of Dar es Salaam made his observations recently in Dar es Salaam when presenting a paper at a policy dialogue seminar of the pre-budget discussion forum which was organized by an Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF). The paper titled ‘Implication of the 2013/2014 budget on the gas extraction in Tanzania’ describes the current status of the petroleum and gas exploration activities going on in southern region of Mtwara and way forward on what should be done. It also highlights major constraints, risks and challenges in the petroleum exploration and development including ignorance of local authorities and localities in the gas field areas. He made it clear that, the local government authorities and communities were not well informed about the government’s plans or consulted nor involved in one way or another in the whole process of a multi billion worth of a gas and petroleum exploration deal and other related development activities. However, he noted that, in view of this, due to these irregularities people rioted in protest to get to know their future rights and use of this precious underground natural wealth. “It is important to note that lack of direct indigenous participation limit their roles, interests and their rights over resource” he said  Describing the constraints, risks and challenges, Dr. Semboja noted that, there are increasing numbers of complex primary and secondary constraints risks affecting the performance in oil and petroleum exploration in Tanzania. The petroleum exploration results are sensitive to various risks, the most significant ones he mentioned is being the hydrocarbon price expressed in dollars and the Euro-dollar exchange rates which keeps on rising. The main risks he noted includes social political risks related with four aspects which are behavior of the governments, legal disputes, resources related to the reconstruction of reserves. Others are market competition, industry, health, social and public security related risks as these might deter future long term and large scale. The forum had the opportunity also to discuss the main key aspects of Kilimo Kwanza program which the government has adopted in order to promote local farmers in the country. In this development concept, ESRF has seen the need for transforming the sector and what to expect for the 2013/14 budget being the second largest contributor to National Gross Domestic Product (GDP) after the service sector. Contributing on the idea, some stakeholders have said that, the program seems to be lagging behind due to a number of reasons among them is extreme poverty among the majority of Tanzanians living in both rural and urban centers. The Executive Secretary of the Agricultural Non State Actors Forum (ANSAF) Audax Rukonge suggested in his paper presentation that, the national budget slated to agricultural sector in the country should target rural infrastructure such as truck roads in areas of agricultural production activities. He also pleaded for more money for land survey, land demarcation saying that these would minimize the existing conflicts among farmers and pastoralists. However, he noted that, if the road infrastructure is well looked at and placed in good order, it would enable the farmers transport their goods smoothly to the market and the problem of inflation would come to an end or reduced to a certain extent.
He also mentioned other things like investments in rural energy and irrigation facilities including market infrastructure is another far economic driven aspect that would ensure an economic transformation in the country.  ANSAF is a registered network of members from Private sector, Civil Society Organizations including international and local NGOs, farmers associations, Researchers and Individuals in Agriculture sector. The formation of ANSAF pioneered from a demand driven organizations in Agriculture Sector 2006. The organization aims to bring together the coordination and collective action of agriculture actors in the interests of the well-being and economic prosperity of small-holder farmers. Provide space for learning and sharing experience through constructive debates and discussions on issues affecting Smallholder farmers in Tanzania.  The Director of programs and projects for Tanzania Exporters Association, Nyalando Mboyi noted that, lack of proper remunerations is a great impediment to the development of Kilimo Kwanza as people especially in rural areas have no capability to afford the necessary agricultural inputs and agro-products. One lady put across her ideas and noted that, the issue of getting supporting services such as land titles from the government is a big problem indeed. A lady who identified by one name as Lydia is on the view of the fact that, the Kilimo Kwanza might have failed due to the fact that, people especially in the rural areas do not have full access to their lands, hence this might develop fear among them of being snatched away and given to foreign investors. She is therefore appealing to the government to make have an arrangement of considering its people and give priority to the local indigenous people of the land ownership.

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