Friday, May 20, 2016

Government warns against Lumbesa weights

THE government has warned greedy traders, who steal from small scale farmers by overloading their sacks popularly known as ‘Lumbesa’, to stop immediately lest they face punitive measures. This warning was issued in the National Assembly on Thursday by the Prime Minister, Mr Kassim Majaliwa, when responding to a question by CUF lawmaker, Swaum Sakala (Special Seats). Premier Majaliwa also ordered Weights and Measures Agency (WMA) to make sure traders observe the required package standards. He also called on Regional Commissioner, District Commissioners and Regional Business Development Officers all over the country to team up with WMA to make sure that the problem is solved. In her question, Sakala said businesspeople were stealing from small scale farmers by forcing them to overfill their sacks and still, they (businesspeople) buy produce at a low cost. 

Tanzania's Prime Minister, Mr Kassim Majaliwa responding questions in Parliament during questions and answer session on Thursday this week.

This, she said was discouraging farmers and some of them have lost confidence and decided to shun farming. The MP demanded the government’s statement on solving the problem. In response to a question by Lucy Magereli (Special Seats --CHADEMA), who sought to know how the government support local entrepreneurs to produce and properly pack their products with barcodes so as to attract wider markets, Mr Majaliwa said efforts are being made to support them. He challenged the entrepreneurs to continue improving their products to add more value and this will help them get good price for their produce. “We have ordered the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) and Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) to make sure these products meet the standard required and are marked with Bar Codes,” he said. Mr Majaliwa also told the House that the government was committed to make sure that it continues to effectively implement National Water Policy, which seeks to supply adequate and reliable water to its people. He also said that the government has continued to make good progress towards urban and rural water supply targets in Tanzania, insisting that the target to cover the entire country by 2025 with reliable water supply was achievable.

Mchuchuma and Liganga projects ready for take-off

CONSTRUCTION of the 5trn/- Mchuchuma coal and Liganga iron ore projects in Mbeya Region is set to kick off this year, the Minister for Industries, Trade and Investment, Mr Charles Mwijage, told a press conference on Thursday in Dodoma. Minister Mwijage said already about 13bn/- has been set aside to compensate dwellers around the mining project area and soon after the exercise, the project will start in which iron ore and core plants will be set up. He said the projects would be implemented by Tanzania China International Mineral Resources Ltd (TCIMRL), which is a joint venture of the National Development Corporation (NDC) and a Chinese firm, Sichuan Hongda Group. About $3 billion will be spent on both projects. Minister Mwijage has said that the Chinese company has a startup capital of 600 billion US dollars and the debt finance will stand at 2.4 billion US dollars. Flanked by officials from NDC and the Chinese company, Minister Mwijage expressed confidence that the projects will be completed on time as their completion is expected to boost the local economy. 

Minister for Industries, Trade and Investment, Mr Charles Mwijage

According to the government, this investment will be the largest single industrial investment since Tanzania got independence in 1961. Minister Mwijage said the project will involve construction of iron plant with the capacity of producing one million tonnes per year and construction of a 600MW plant, of which 250 MW will be consumed by the iron plant and 350 MW will be fed into national grid. Such production will make Tanzania the third largest producer of iron in Africa. The two projects will create 32,000 jobs and generate about 3.13tri/- per year. According to Minister Mwijage, Tanzania’s stake in this project stands at 20 per cent, while the remaining 80 per cent is owned by the Chinese company. However, Mr Mwijage said it was the government’s commitment to increase its stake up to 49 per cent. Iron production is expected to lift the country to the middle income category and make realization of the 2025 Vision possible. Iron ore is a vital resource for steel manufacturing industries and other ferrous based industries. The explorations carried at the Mchuchuma Liganga projects have already confirmed that the coal and iron ore deposits will be mined for more than 100 years.

Roads and Railways construction projects to be given first priority

THE National Assembly on Wednesday this week approved 4.9bn/- budget for the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication for the 2016/2017 financial year, with the promise that massive improvement of infrastructure will continue to be given priority. Winding up his ministry’s 2016/17 budgets estimates, Minister Makame Mbarawa said construction of a Central Railway Line at a standard gauge project was a reality and will be carried out effectively. “We are fully aware that our roads will not last without setting up a reliable railway network, that is why the Fifth Phase Government is committed to constructing the central railway line to a standard gauge,” he said. However, he said, to construct a 2,527-kilometre railway line, the government needs 8 billion US dollars (about 16tn/-), which he said was enormous and no country in the world could be ready to offer a concession loan to carry out the project. 

Minister for Works, Transport and Communication Professor Makame Mbarawa

 “The former president, Jakaya Kikwete, and I took the initiative to visit China recently to seek a loan but the Chinese government advised us to break the project into phases,” he said. He added that through its own sources, they have decided to start with a 1tn/- project from Dar es Salaam to Ruvu in the next fiscal year. “We have already formed a technical team for this project and later, a tender will be floated,” said the minister. The minister also said that withdrawal of US government support through the Millennium Challenge Cooperation (MCC) programme has not affected road projects that are being undertaken by the government. He thanked President John Magufuli for his continued support and commitment to see to it that the country’s infrastructure is transformed. The minister revealed to the august House that, since coming into power almost six months ago, President Magufuli’s Fifth Phase Government has already disbursed 1tn/- to his ministry to finance various projects. On Tuesday this week, the ministry unveiled a massive 4.9tn/-, for flagship infrastructure development in the next 2016/2017 fiscal year, out of the amount, a sum of 2.2tn/- is for works sector, 2.6tn/- for transport sector and remaining 96bn/- for communication sector. Prof. Mbarawa said from the 2.2tn/- set aside for works sector, a total of 400bn/- will be used to pay outstanding dues the government owes various contractors and consulting engineers, while the remaining 1.8bn/- will be spent on construction of roads. Clarifying on the loss of 5.6bn/- as a result of delay to pay contractors and consultant engineers, which is said to have accumulated from interest rates from 2011 to 2015, Prof. Mbarawa admitted that it was true but said it was due to lack of funds to clear the debt on time.