Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Changes made by Parliament not graft claims – Ndugai

THE move by the National Assembly to restructure the parliamentary standing committees is routine and has nothing to do with allegations of corruption as alleged in the social media and one local media outlet. A statement issued to the media early this week by the assembly’s Communication’s Department, noted that the changes are routine and aimed at improving efficiency of the parliamentary committees. “Objective of the changes made by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Job Ndugai, have considered new challenges and needs that came up after the new parliamentary committees were formed in January this year,” the statement read in part. The statement further pointed out that if there are any MPs who have gone against ethics and are involved in any criminal offences, responsible investigating institutions should execute its responsibility accordingly. It further pointed out that parliament, under the authority of the Speaker, can also conduct its own investigations through the Parliamentary Powers, Privileges and Ethics Committee. “Under regulation 116(3), the national assembly speaker has the authority to make changes in parliamentary standing committees and can do so any time he deems right, like he did early this month when 15 legislators wanted to be assigned to other parliamentary committees due to various reasons, including health,” the statement said. The assembly noted that the changes are also meant to improve efficiency of the committees, following yesterday’s reshuffle where 27 legislatures were assigned to other committees. The same sentiments were echoed earlier in the day by the national assembly Speaker, Job Ndugai, who said no legislator is under investigation by the Assembly following allegations of corruption in social media and a local media out, although he added that there might be a possibility for other state organs to conduct their own investigations.

The Speaker of the National Assembly of Tanzania Honorable Job Ndugai.

Mr Ndugai stressed that the changes are not unusual in such settings to improve efficiency and are not related with the allegations of corruption. Making the revelations during a Clouds FM programme ‘Power Breakfast’ yesterday, Mr Ndugai said he has no report on the corruption claims but acknowledged to have heard the allegations levelled at parliamentary committee chairpersons and deputy chairpersons. “I want to make it clear that the national assembly has no report on these allegations of corruption against the legislators -- and I am appealing to the public to have trust in the Parliament,” he noted. Speaking on reports that some MPs have written official letters resigning from the committees to pave way for investigations over allegations of corruption, Mr Ndugai said he has received 12 letters from legislators wanting to resign from the committees. “I have indeed received their letters of resignation over such allegations of corruption but I am surprised by the move because the changes have not touched any of them,” Mr Ndugai told “Power Breakfast’’. The Speaker made changes in the structure of the parliamentary standing committees recently by dropping six chairpersons and vice-chairpersons as well as reshuffling members from one committee to another. This means that three committees will have to elect new chairpersons while three others will choose new vice-chairpersons as provided through Standing Order Number 116 (10) of the House. The new changes come hardly three months after the Speaker announced the new line-up of members for the committees of the 11th Parliament. “Mr Ndugai has made the changes through Standing Order number 116 (3), which gives him power to appoint parliamentarians to form the committees,” according to a statement issued by the Parliamentary Communications Unit. The statement attributed the changes to “new requirements and challenges after the committees were formed last January.”

Foundation receives equipment to curb premature births

A local NGO, Doris Mollel Foundation (DMF), last week received three oxygen concentrators to support its ongoing efforts to address premature births in the country. The equipment worth 10m/- was handed over by GSM Foundation. Receiving the equipment in Dar es Salaam, DMF founder Doris Mollel said the support came as part of commemoration of World Prematurity Day which will take place on November 17. According to her, the equipment will be distributed to referral hospitals in Shinyanga, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar to address premature births, the leading cause of death for newborns. Mollel said the national rate of preterm births has gone up and reports show that approximately 9,000 newborn babies out of 200,000 die of complications related to preterm births in the country every year. “Despite low birth rates in the past decade, preterm birth rates is on the rise worldwide. I urge both public and private actors to join hands to protect lives of innocent babies who are at high risk,” she appealed. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), preterm birth is the leading cause of newborn deaths and the second-leading cause of mortality in children under the age of five. However, modern neonatal intensive care has made it possible for even the tiniest of babies to survive their prematurity.  Handing over the equipment, GSM Foundation representative Shannon  Kiwamba said the contribution will help to tackle the challenge in hospitals. Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Paul Makonda commended GSM Foundation for its support. He urged other people to feel the same and come out to help address such countrywide challenges. Worldwide reports show that approximately 15 million babies are born preterm each year, accounting for about one in ten of all babies born worldwide.

Education can help market EA states and region

Lack of awareness on the use of Certificates of Origin (CO) when East Africa business persons export within the region was a great talk last week in Kigoma’s Kasulu, a border town between Tanzania and Burundi. Goading the talk was Tanzania Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture (TCCIA) acting executive director Magdalena Mkocha, who said last year alone, not more than 10,000 COs were issued to exporters in Tanzania because of lack of awareness on part of the small cross border businesses. Mkocha was only commenting on how women faired when it came to the use of Certificates of Origin when exporting within the region. She observed that majority of women engaged in cross border trade as well as other businesses within the region were not familiar with the COs and the benefits it has to the economic activities they do. Appending a word at the function, TCCIA District Chairman Pius Luziba said there was a grand need for women to make use of certificates of origin for them to trade more effectively in the region. But what is a Certificate of Origin (CO)? A Certificate of Origin (CO) is  an important  international  trade document  attesting that  goods in a particular  export  shipment  are wholly  obtained, produced,  manufactured  or processed in a particular country. COs also constitute a declaration by the exporter. Virtually every country in the world considers the origin of imported goods when determining what duty will be assessed on the goods or in some cases, whether the goods may be legally imported at all.  They are two – ‘Non–Preferential’ and ‘Preferential Cos’. While the former are only ordinary and certify that the country of origin of a particular product does not qualify for any preferential treatment, the latter enable products to enjoy tariff reduction or exemption when they are exported to countries extending these privileges, for example, GSP Commonwealth Preference Certificate.  COs may be needed to comply with letters of credit, foreign customs requirements or buyer’s request. In most countries, chambers of Commerce are the key agents in the delivery of certificates of origin. However in some, this privilege may also be extended to other bodies such as ministries or customs authorities. In East African, almost all states are signatories to various protocols associated with the COs. Good enough chambers of commerce in these states have been mandated to issue certificates of origins to businesses operating in each respective state.  So when a trader makes use of COs, essentially it means they are marketing or selling the good name of their country, culture, people and the like. By not making good use of COs it means that one is either intentionally refusing to advertise their country as well as denying it any other future probable business. East African chambers have therefore a great onus to educate businesspersons so that they make use of COs to promote, not only their respective countries, but also the entire region.

Drilling test for oil undertaken along the coast

THE company prospecting for oil and natural gas at Ruvu Block in Coast Region namely Dodsal Hydrocarbons and Power Tanzania will conduct a drill stem test at the exploration area to find out feasibility of the discovery after presenting a work plan to the government. Last week, the Minister for Energy and Minerals, Prof Sospeter Muhongo, announced that the company had discovered 2.17 trillion cubic feet (tcf) at the block. Officials of Dodsal estimate that the reserve is worth US $6 billion dollars (about 12trl/-). According to an online information bank, Wikipedia, a drill stem test (DST) is a procedure for isolating and testing the pressure, permeability and productive capacity of a geological formation during the drilling of a well. The test is an important measurement of pressure behaviour at the drill stem and is a valuable way of obtaining information on the formation fluid and establishing whether a well has found a commercial hydrocarbon reservoir. “So far the company has drilled one well at Mambambakofi- 1 at the block which has been discovered with 2.17 trillion cubic feet (tcf)”, the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC)’s Director of Upstream Operations, Mr Kelvin Komba, explained at a news conference. 

Minister for Energy and Minerals, Prof Sospeter Muhongo, 

In total, the company drilled three wells in Ruvu Block but two of them have not showed positive results. He added; “Initial tests such as ‘wire-line logging’ as well as ‘pressure versus depth’ and laboratory tests have been conducted and proved the presence of a gas reservoir at the block.” The explanation by TPDC sought to clarify a report in a ‘Kiswahili’ daily newspaper yesterday which had casted doubts on the new discovery, citing what it described as “flaws in the exploration procedures.” “The new Petroleum Act which came into force in September last year requires the contractor at an exploration block to present to the government appraisal programme after which it will be allowed to drill more wells to carry out drill stem tests,” Mr Komba expounded. Through the new legislation, a contractor is required to inform the government of any discovery within 48 hours. The Petroleum Act, 2015 repealed The Petroleum (Exploration and Productions) Act, 1980 and The Petroleum Act, 2008. The new finding by the United Arab Emirates (UAE)- based company at Ruvu Block brings the sum of discovered natural gas reserves to 57.27 tcf in both offshore and onshore wells. Other discoveries have been made in Songo Songo Island in Lindi Region, Mnazi Bay in Mtwara and Mkuranga in Coast Region.

Tigo for SMS makini educational platform

In an effort to help address the challenge of access to quality educational resources among students, Tigo Tanzania in partnership with Shule Direct, a local online education enterprise, has launched SMS Makini educational platform to provide educational learning content to students and teachers. Tigo Corporate Responsibility Manager Woinde Shisael told reporters during the launching event in Dar es Salaam last week that students will benefit from the platform by accessing academic materials basing on the country’s syllabus. She said the move would help to bridge the existing gap of learning resources in the education sector. Reports show a significant number of teachers in public schools experience an annual demand of more than 20,000 Science and Mathematics teachers. 

Tigo Corporate Responsibility Manager Woinde Shisael 

“Through the use of Tigo SMS Makini, secondary school students and teachers, will be able to access digitalized notes, tutorials, quizzes, podcasts and videos right from their mobile handsets,” Woinde explained. The materials available would include History, Civics, Geography, Physics, Chemistry, English, Biology, English, Mathematics and Kiswahili subjects. Tigo subscribers would only access free services for one month thereafter will be required to pay a weekly subscription fee of Sh100 and Sh500 respectively. “To access the service, subscribers will need to send a key word makini to 15397 and follow instructions” she said. Shule Direct, a designed platform by Faraja Nyalandu works to address the problem enabling students to learn independently and provide teachers with qualified teaching resources. Faraja said the platform target the masses by using an SMS platform that provide learning and revision quizzes for on-the-go learning on any basic mobile phone. As of September last year, at least 10,200 had already been subscribed with the platform while recording 115,000 visitors.