By Kizito Makoye, Dar es Salaam – As Tanzania’s government strives to bridge yawning gaps in its budget million of dollars are reported to have been paid to non-existent employees (ghost workers) in the public sector, to the detriment of donors whose taxpayers dig deep into their pocket to finance the country’s General Budget Support every single year.
A parliamentary committee investigating the expenditure in the central government, recently discovered that about shillings 9 billion( over US$6 million) had been paid to ghost workers.
Although the committee recommended that the country’s Controller and Auditor General and law enforcement organs should take action against officials responsible for this blunder, no culprit has so far been brought to justice.
President Jakaya Kikwete has instructed the minister responsible for public service management to ask the country anti-corruption body to institute legal action against officials who would be found to be behind this surging wave of ghost workers .
The country’s minister of state with public service portfolio, Hawa Ghasia says at least 3000 ghost workers; notably in education, health and judicial sectors, have unscrupulously siphoned funds between 2007 and 2009. She confirmed that cases against them have been handled over to the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau for investigations and prosecutions.
Reports have it that unscrupulous officials in local governments have also been punching holes in the funds earmarked for various development projects to the detriment of the country’s economic progress. Parliamentary investigators have uncovered massive misappropriation of money earmarked for development.
Critics link the ongoing scandal with the receding popularity of the government under Chama Cha Mapinduzi( the ruling party) which has apparently left ‘looters’ of public funds walking scot free.
In a statement released late last year , international donors including Norway, raised eyebrows over Tanzania’s slow pace in implementing public financial management both at local and central government levels. The donors criticized the country’s budget for lack of clear strategy for expenditure prioritization consequently slashed funding pledges for Tanzania’s 2010/11 budget by nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to $534 million due to concerns about the slow pace of reforms in the country.
Tanzania is among the continent’s biggest per capita aid recipients. Foreign assistance made up 33 percent of Tanzania’s 2009/10 budget .
Commenting on this development Samuel Wangwe- a researcher working with Poverty Alleviation NGO concurred with several commentators that while development partners contribute enormously to the national development budget, it is important that they keep a vigilant eye on channeled funds to ensure that it fulfills the need for which it was meant.
Kizito Makoye is a Journalist based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania