Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Government to save money from the small cabinet formed

As the recently elected fifth phase Tanzania’s President John Magufuli has already announced his small and well organized cabinet ministers, the government would be saving Sh11.5bn/- this financial year following the small number of ministers and their deputies which is 34. The previous fourth phase government had at least 55 ministers including their deputies who have so far been slashed to only 34. The move has come with a view to cutting costs and making ministers more effective and responsive to the needs of the population, as part of measures to reduce cost overheads in the public service. It is said that, with this cross cutting measures, the government would save around Sh. 1.2 billion which would be used to pay salaries for ministers and deputies, to buy Land Cruiser V8-VX, vehicle service and fuel cost and housing allowances. The money could be used to serve 11 ministers and 10 deputy ministers, before the president decided to merge some of the departments and state-owned enterprises under enlarged ministries. It is said that, the amount which would be used to buy a brand new Land Cruiser V8-VX is said to be around $200,000 per vehicle, equivalent to Sh. 432,430,000/- and its maintenance costs billed to stand at Sh. 0,136,676,000/- for all eleven pruned ministers and 10 deputy ministers. Housing allowance for one minister is put at Sh. 800,000/- per month as well as deputy ministers, in which case a total of Sh. 201,600,000/- would be spent for that purpose annually. Fuel expenses for a single minister is put at Sh. 1, 823,000/- per month and for all 11 ministers and 10 deputy ministers, their total fuel cost allocation would be Sh. 459, 396,000/- per year. It is also noted that car service costs per minister is around Sh.1.8 m/- per servicing charge, in which case about Sh. 599, 400,000/- be required in maintenance charges for the total group of 11 ministers and 10 deputy ministers. Similarly, a minister receives about Sh. 3.8 m/- as basic salary, where the government would be paying Sh. 957, 600,000/- per year for the slashed ministers and deputy ministers. However, some commentators have said that the decision to merge some of the ministries would hamper coordination of duties which is vital to ensure greater efficiency and service delivery. One of the critics, former Deputy Minister of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements, Goodluck ole-Medeye said that that decision will not reduce costs in the government but add more costs due to the structure of the cabinet and its performance. Ole-Medeye was quoted by the meduia as saying that ministers receives Sh. 3.8 m/- in salary, the same amount for members of Parliament, while the government adds some Sh500,000/-  in the minister’s package. Another nominal cost the minister added is Sh. 800, 000/- as housing allowance which he believes will not have any impact in the national budget since performance of the lean cabinet will increase costs. “The structure of government will increase costs because the decision to merge ministries will lead to underperformance, for example having a Disaster Commission at the Prime Minister’s Office and a firefighting force. They will perform the same duties so it is advisable to merge those departments under one ministry,” he said. Another commentator, Prof Simon Mbilinyi who served as Finance Minister from 1995 to 1996 said Dr Magufuli’s decision to slash the number of ministers will reduce costs the government incurs. In previous leadership the country had a huge number of ministers who do not have much work to do and instead they were selected by former presidents to protect party interests or recognition of support rendered during election campaigns. “We have seen ministers receiving a lot of incentives including large amounts of salary, allowances, use expensive cars, etc. and do nothing in return. Commenting on the issue, Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (Tucta) secretary general Nicholas Mgaya said that this decision will reduce the cost of running the cabinet as a lot of money has been used to buy ministerial cars, to pay housing allowances and expenses paid to minister’s assistants such as house maid and drivers.

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