Tanzania: Ghost workers ‘loot’ Tanzanian budget

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.

President Jakaya Kikwete

President Jakaya Kikwete

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