By Kizito Makoye, Dar es Salaam – Tanzania government has sent an ‘emotional’ appeal to donors requesting for additional funding to bridge the yawning gap in its 2010/11 national budget.
The move comes just weeks after the finance ministry’s permanent secretary Ramadhani Khijjah criticized donors for imposing stringent conditions on aid making it increasingly difficult to implement development programmes.
According to the letter dated 19th January 2011; availed donors comprising the General Budget Support(GBS), Finance Minister Mustafa Mkulo explains that his government was caught up in unforeseen challenges in the course of implementing the budget.
The minister says the government had to embark on emergency expenditures. The budget financing gap became apparent during the Mid Year Budget Review that assessed performance and determined the course of action to be taken during the second half of the current financial year.
“Challenges have been indentified, especially with regard to shortfalls in revenue collection against a projection of close to 10% and continued lack of rainfall, which has affected agricultural activities. All these impact negatively on the implementation of the budget, causing an unexpected funding gap, which needs financing to ensure that we stay on course,” he says.
The major challenges, according to Mkulo, include electricity generation where the government has been forced to purchase more fuel to ease power shortage which has tightened grip in most parts of the country.
The letter also explains that the government has had to incur extra costs to boost its national food reserves in the wake of persistent drought that most part of the country has been experiencing this year.
The national budget presented in June last year totaled 11.6 trillion shillings of which 7.79 trillion shillings were earmarked for recurrent expenditure and about 3.81 trillion shillings were set aside for development projects.
The GBS group has consistently criticized Tanzanian authorities for lacking political will to fight graft.
Despite the prevailing shortfalls, the minister expresses optimism over some ‘tiny’ achievements including encouraging signs of economic stability that put Tanzania on track towards attaining seven percent growth. “Based on the Mid Year Review the government is reviewing some of its expenditure items, especially in recurrent budget to weed out those that will not have negative impact on the general performance. In mind are items on seminars/workshop, etc,” says Mkullo.
The government’s request for extra funds comes almost a year after donors withheld some $220 million in GBS for this financial year. The donors said then that their combined GBS in 2010/11 would be $534 million , some $220 million less than in the current financial year ending in June.
Kizito Makoye is a Tanzanian journalist based in Dar es Salaam