Monday, July 28, 2014
Child mortality rates, improvement on maternal health and extreme poverty are the most common difficult areas which Tanzania government has totally failed to address successfully in its efforts to reach the targets for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, a government economist has said. The Principle Economist at the Ministry of Finance, Ekingo Magembe made the observation in his paper presentation which he presented at a breakfast talk organized by a policy forum at British Council last week in Dar es Salaam. Magembe who was the key speaker at the forum said that, the government has been facing lots of challenges in order to tackle problems related with child and maternal deaths as well as extreme poverty which has been troubling people’s lives in the country. However, he noted that the government is striving very hard in order to accomplish the need for other areas prior to the deadline set by 2015, and that he is optimistic that, with the few remaining months, the targets would be achieved, In his report, he pinpointed areas which have shown a slight improvement at a higher rates includes water supplies, combating HIV/AIDS and malaria infections, gender equality and women empowerment, achieve universal primary education. He said these have been achieved at 87 percent. However, he said adding that, although water sector shows a stagnant improvement he is sure with the current efforts being undertaken by the government to address the matter to the general public, the problem would end by 2015. Elaborating the failure by the government to combat child mortality, Magembe told this blog in an exclusive interview that, poor technology and lack of medical expertise is a main exacerbating factor that keeps the situation going on in most hospitals in the country. He further elaborated that, the continued poverty stricken situation among Tanzanians the majority of whom depends on agricultural activities is due to poor farming implements and applied crude technology on how to run the sector profitably. He said most farmers in the country still rely on small scale farming activities an aspect that most of them fails to reduce their poverty situation. He has however, asked the government to concentrate on big state farming where farmers would be able to access market and better farm seeds. Contributing a debate on government’s failure to meet its proper targets, a retired Professor of economy Adolfo Mascarenhas said that, government t executives have developed a tendency of addressing the country’s problems instead of focusing on the solution. He cited the issue of land grabbing attitude which is taking a high stake of social problem but the government does not address the issue to clear the menace coming up in most parts in the country, and is very annoying to see that, the executives keeps quite about the issue. An information officer of the UN offices in Dar es Salaam, Stella Vuzo, highlighted corruption and lack of commitment at places of work has been the major cause from achieving all these targets. She said that, the government needs to involve people of all kind for its entire development plans from the grass root level to the top most executives in order to be able to tackle obstacles lying ahead in its move to spear the goals. A Kenyan national, Othieno Nyanjom who is an economic researcher and consultant said that, Tanzania has concentrated more investments in bigger issues which does not help its poor citizens especially farmers. He commended that, the government has to start to design for the next cycle of the MDGs for 2016-2025 to rectify u all the areas it might have mistaken while implementing its objectives into achieving proper targets.He noted that, the government should look critically at the issue of youth employment and women empowerment this should be addressed in MDGs for the two groups are the main conductors of the national economy. Citing an example in his country Kenya, unemployment is growing at an alarming rate and the government is striving hard to address the issue at national level. Policy Forum holds the People and Policy Debates. This is an informal discussion over Breakfast aimed at providing a forum to broaden public understanding and debate on a topical policy issue. The debates are held at the British Council Auditorium in Dar es Salaam city centre.
A day after the local media reported plans by the Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC) to look for buyers to take over branches of Tanzania based Federal Bank of Middle East (FBME), the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) has officially announced its intention to take over the bank’s operations with immediate effect, it has been learnt. BoT confirmed this in a statement it issued yesterday in Dar es Salaam which clearly stated that, its decision is in line with the provisions of Sections 56(1)(g)(iii) of the banking and financial institutions Act 2006. According to the BoT, the objectives underlying this decision are to ensure safety of customers’ deposits and safeguard the stability of entire banking system. However, the statement is further quoted as saying that, “under the BoT management, the public has been assured that the bank’s operations will continue smoothly”. Earlier the report published by by a Lebanese premier English paper, The Daily Star, said that the Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC) was looking for buyers to take over branches of the troubled financial institution valued at $2 billion. The move comes nearly a week after Cyprus took over the control of the financial house following grave allegations leveled against it by the US authorities. While FBME Bank is presently headquartered in Tanzania, it transacts over 90 per cent of its global business and holds over 90 per cent of its assets, in its two branches located in Cyprus. Data from the BoT show that by the end of 2013, FBME Bank had assets in Tanzania valued at $256 million (Sh431 billion). At the current exchange rate, $1 sells for Sh1,680.
An investigative piece if information by the US government earlier disclosed that, the FBME Bank Ltd, formerly known as Federal Bank of the Middle East, Ltd, is a financial institution of primary money laundering. The Bank was alleged to have facilitated a substantial volume of money laundering through the bank for many years. FBME is used by its customers to facilitate money laundering, terrorist financing, transnational organised crime, fraud, sanctions evasion, and other illicit activity internationally and through the US financial system.” In just one year, from April 2013 through April 2014, FBME conducted at least $387 million in wire transfers through the US financial system that exhibited indicators of high-risk money laundering typologies, including widespread shell company activity, short-term “surge” wire activity, structuring, and high-risk business customers. For instance the US authorities say FBME bank was involved in at least 4,500 suspicious wire transfers through US correspondent accounts that totalled at least $875 million between November 2006 and March 2013. The Lebanese paper reported mid this week that the move by the Central Bank of Cyprus late on Monday came after allegations by key European Union partners that the island’s once-bloated banking sector had been engaged in laundering money on behalf of some Russian interests.
DESPITE the abundance of many agricultural industries using wheat grain in manufacturing their products, the country still experiences a huge deficit of the product, thus forcing it to import the majority consignment from Brazil, Ukraine and Russia, it has been learnt. The Director of National Food Security Karimu Mtambo said in Dar es Salaam on Thursday this week that, Tanzania is faced with a deficit of about 42 percent of the required stock so as to supplement the entire rate of consumption in the country. He told this blog during an exclusive interview that, due to the impending shortages of wheat grains, the government is striving much to regulate the availability of the product in the local market bearing its importance to consumers in the country. In view of this, however he noted that, the government continues to issue permits to local importing companies who are licensed such as Bahkresa group of companies, Azam Flour Mills, Pembe Limited and many others including the Mohammed Enterprises Ltd to cater for the need. The aim of the government is to supplement the deficit of wheat grain for the entire consumption of the product by individuals as well as the industries that use the product to manufacture products made up of wheat grains in the country. He said although Tanzania is self sufficient in food, still the country lacks enough cereals such as wheat grains for local consumption, an aspect that forces the government to engage in the importation of large quantities of such products. When asked why Mohammed Enterprises Ltd has been licensed to import maize grains and yet the country claims to be sufficient in maize productions, in his clarification he noted the necessity of licensing the company together with others is for the emergency purposes if the shortages occurs at such unlikely time of the year. Two weeks ago, Tanzania Food and Drug Authority (TFDA) issued a six month ultimatum to the importing companies of maize flours and wheat as well as vegetable oils to ensure that, the imported products have enough nutrients in it.
The nutrients that the TFDA insisted are minerals and vitamins which it said are insufficient in such food contents a result of which consumers of such products are at risk of being infected by diseases caused as a result of lack of proper nutrients in their bodies. TFDA’s Director of Food Safety, Raymond Wigenge confirmed in Dar es Salaam during an exclusive interview with this blog and noted that, such foodstuffs are mixed up with insufficient contents of food nutrients during production with low percentage rate, and when consumed do not build up human bodies as required. He noted that, foodstuff such as maize flour, wheat and vegetable oils do lack enough nutrients like Iron, Zinc, and vitamins A, E and B12 bearing the fact that vitamins and mineral food components helps to protect human body against minor diseases. The decision by TFDA follows a study report conducted by Tanzania Food Centre (TFC) which revealed its findings that in Tanzania there is a deficiency of some vitamins and other minerals on human bodies which has been discovered to be lacking in some foodstuffs and edible vegetable oils. However, he noted that, with the current escalating situation, his organization has seen the need to inform importers to liaise with producers to add more nutrients to such foodstuffs. However, he further noted that, TFDA has embarked effectively on National Fortification Programme (NFP) whose aim is to minimize effects associated with micro-nutrient deficiency in the country. Elaborating on the initiatives and measures to be undertaken under the programme, he said both local and foreign food producers and sellers would be examined according to the newly introduced guidelines to start effectively end of this year. Under the new guidelines, TFDA will look at the imported foodstuffs such as Maize flour, Wheat flour and vegetable oils in order to verify their contents if they conform to the level of food standards required by TFDA. He noted that, the importation of bulk consignments would be directed according to the newly established guidelines which TFDA has prepared and would effectively start end of this year. These guidelines are in accordance with the types of food imported.
Tanzanians are at risk of being infected by diseases resulting from lack of enough nutrients such as vitamins and minerals in some foodstuffs which they consume, an official from Tanzania Food and Drug Authority (TFDA) has said. TFDA’s Director of Food Safety, Raymond Wigenge confirmed in Dar es Salaam early this week that, such foodstuffs are mixed up with insufficient contents of food nutrients during production with low percentage rate, and when consumed do not build up human bodies as required. He said in an exclusive interview in his office that, foodstuff such as maize flour, wheat and vegetable oils do lack enough nutrients like Iron, Zinc, and vitamins A, E and B12 bearing the fact that vitamins and mineral food components helps to protect human body against minor diseases. The call by TFDA has come amid study reports conducted by Tanzania Food Centre (TFC) which reveals that in Tanzania there is a deficiency of some vitamins and other minerals on human bodies which has been discovered to be lacking in some foodstuffs and edible vegetable oils. The study findings also reveals that, there is a deficiency of other minerals such as iron and zinc in these foodstuffs especially in vegetable oils which are destroyed during the process of refining them. However, he noted that, with the escalating situation, his organization has seen the need of adding natural vitamins and minerals, and has embarked effectively on National Fortification Programme (NFP) whose aim is to minimize effects associated with micro-nutrient deficiency in the country. Elaborating on the initiatives and measures to be undertaken under the programme, he said both local and foreign food producers and sellers would be examined according to the newly introduced guidelines to start effectively end of this year. Under the new guidelines, TFDA will look at the imported foodstuffs such as Maize flour, Wheat flour and vegetable oils in order to verify their contents if they conform to the level of food standards required by TFDA. He said TFDA has issued a directive to food importers to inform their manufacturers of producers of such foodstuffs to strictly adhere to the new guidelines which his organization has issued as most of their consignments have been discovered to have a shortfall of the basic nutritious contents. He noted that, the importation of bulk consignments would be directed according to the newly established guidelines which TFDA has prepared and would effectively start end of this year. These guidelines are in accordance with the types of food imported. He specified the required nutrients in these foodstuffs are such like Iron, Zinc, Vitamin B12, Folic Acid, Vitamin A and E .
Under these specifications, vitamin A and E are for vegetable oils, Wheat and maize flour vitamin B12, Folic Acid and Zinc. He said the maximum level of iron is 50 milligrams per kilograms whereas on oil vegetables is required vitamin A and this should be in the form of Retinyl Palmitate with a maximum 28 miligrames per litre. However, he said and added that, there are no ant products to be included as these are within their mandatory and are accepted according to the guidelines prepared. To implement this, however, he clarified that the management of TFDA has met with food stakeholders including importers and have agreed to accept the consultation of the six months grace period from now as there are some importers who had already paid charges of importation for their bulk consignment for the year. When asked why allowing the importation of foodstuffs and yet Tanzania claims to be sufficient in food supply from local producers, he said his office has no mandate to prevent traders or importers who have been licensed to trade by the government, except what they do is to regulate safety of products to consumers regardless whether are imported or locally produced. Speaking over the matter when contacted for comments, a spokesperson in the Ministry of Agriculture Richard Kasuga said that, the government has licensed some individuals to import foodstuffs to supplement any shortage that might have occurred in the country. He said in a telephone interview that, such importers are allowed to do so in case are able to pay the taxes imposed, but if the local market face acute shortage of foodstuffs, then the government waive all taxes imposed to let them import as much food as required. He clarified that, the move by the government is to curb with food insecurity likely to occur in the country at such unlikely time of the year, but it is not intending to kill the local producers, he said and added that, moreover the situation is open as the government has allowed trade liberation. Cornered for comment, industrialists who manufacture foodstuffs in the country have said that, importation of wheat flour and vegetable oil has hampered local market. An official with the AZAM Flour Mills in the city who spoke on condition of anonymity said in an exclusive interview on Wednesday this week in Dar es Salaam that, the local market is flooded with cheap imports of foodstuffs which are not standardized according to the specification required. However, he has appreciated the move by the government to oversee food fortification programme in the country would help reduce cheating. Food fortification is the practice of adding essential vitamins and minerals (e.g. iron, vitamin A, folic acid, iodine) to staple foods to improve their nutritional content. Fortification is a safe, effective way to improve public health that has been used around the world since the 1920s.
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Tanzania Women Lawyers Association (TAWLA) has managed to handle over 40,000 Gender Based Violence (GBV) cases in the country since its establishment in 1990, it has been learnt. The trend was revealed last week in Dar es Salaam by the association’s Chairperson Aisha Bade at a launching ceremony of the so-called ‘Toll free line services’ which would help facilitate information and expand access to legal aid services to more women in the country. She said that, about 57 percent of all these cases forwarded to the association have been solved and most of them were related with domestic problems as related with issues of matrimonial rights, inheritance rights, land and children rights. Other cases she mentioned included physical, psychological or sexual violence like raping, early marriage, humiliation and assault, adding that according to the records about 400 trained paralegals attend up to more than 4,000 cases in a year. She noted that, despite positive cooperation which has been shown by stakeholders over the fight against women violation in the country, a joint concerted effort is still needed to curb the menace as there is higher rates of the continued cases of violence against women in the country. She elaborated that, despite these efforts her association still falls short in ensuring that justice is accessible efficiently to all vulnerable women in the country with 25 regions bearing the fact that, the association is physically established in 4 regions and further presence in 17 districts in total.
Tanzania Women Lawyers Association (TAWLA) Chairperson Aisha Bade
The regions are Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Tanga and Dodoma, while districts that includes, Karatu, Monduli,Arusha, Arumeru,Longido, Tanga,Muheza, Mpwapwa, Kongwa, Bahi, Chamwino,Mvomero, Kisarawe, Mpanda erural, Kinondoni,Ilala and Temeke. In view of these shortfalls, the association has introduced Toll free line services systems which will be hosted by two communication companies one for landline and the other one for mobile phones. The two companies are Vodacom telephone company (for cell phone No: 0800 751010) and Tanzania Telecommunication Company Limited (TTCL) for the landline No: 0800 110017. The two numbers she said would be used freely to relay messages that would need urgent legal aid from her association so that the vulnerable women groups would be able to disclose information as related with human rights violation and other cases so as to be able to access justice when they need to. “These lines will be useful to clients as their needs will e attended by trained advocates especially recruited for this work where they will not only receive first hand information but also professional legal advice,” she said. She further noted that, depending on the nature of the case, clients may be directed to visit the TAWLA office for further assistance or to the relevant institution, and added that, this service will be available from Monday to Friday from 09:00am to 04:30 pm. The services will be recorded daily in special monitoring forms and follow up will be made monthly on the cases attended. Access to justice still remains to be the most basic human right and hence it is of paramount importance within our country”, she said adding that it is therefore imperative to ensure access to justice as this is actually facilitated by bringing it closer to the people.