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Prior to the October 25th 2015 general elections, civil society organizations under the Policy Forum Budget Working Group prepared and presented what was termed “Our KEY ASKS to the Next Government” for the consideration of different political parties that were taking party in the polls.  The document contains a number of critical issues that required the attention of the government.    
Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) won the elections to form the government which is headed by President John Pombe Magufuli and CSOs therefore hope that the issues they raised then will be addressed by the fifth regime which has recently marked its 100 days in power. Based on what we have observed during this short but momentous period, we present our reflections and assessment on how well the new government is addressing the issues that are of concern to us:  

1. On Domestic Resource Mobilization

For many years, CSOs have had concerns over how the government can improve its fiscal policies so as to combat losses of tax through systemic tax evasion, tax avoidance and illicit outflows that are draining domestic resources. The new government under President Magufuli has shown interest to review fiscal policies. Since 2015 the government has reduced tax exemptions extended to mining companies from 17.6% to 9% of all tax relief granted to mining investments. The government through the Minister of Finance and Planning gave a statement in the Parliament that the focus of the government now will be to improve business and investment climate to attract investors as opposed to granting tax incentives. Towards the end of last year, the government through the Ministry of Finance and Planning extended invitation to stakeholders including CSOs to provide inputs that may help in the proceedings of the task force on tax reform, in preparation for the 2016/17 budget. The initiative by the new government indicates not only its willingness to improve fiscal policies and thereby increase domestic resource mobilization, but to also open up this process by involving non-state actors.

In order to improve efficiency, transparency and accountability in tax collection, as well as to curb tax evasion and avoidance, practical measures and actions have been taken which include restructuring at the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA)  and the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) that saw more than 200 clearing and forwarding companies being disqualified for failure to show up their tax clearance receipts and in the past three months, TRA effectively collecting over and above 100% of estimated tax revenue collections.

Other steps have included outright termination of services of senior TRA officers including the Commissioner General, other officers being charged in court over abuse of office and causing losses of government revenues and over 100 TRA officers being relocated from Dar es Salaam to other regional offices.

Furthermore, to ensure that the government spends tax revenues expediently, we have seen measures taken to reduce unnecessary expenditures for example; the government issued a guideline on foreign travels for all government officials. A travel permit has to be sought from the state house and the trip should not only be relevant but it must be proved necessary and cost effective. It is estimated that over 4 billion shillings have been saved monthly since the announcement.

It is recommended, however, that the government works to progressively build strong institutions and systems with strict and enforceable rules and regulations for sustained actions on tax revenue collections.

 2. On Health

The health sector has seen tremendous improvements in the first 100 days of the current regime. It is indeed one of the sectors that have received most attention with numerous spot checks by the President and responsible Ministers on key health facilities. The reported intent for the visits was to address the rampant inefficiencies in the system – from equipment to patient management. The visits also appeared to push for accountability among public health providers. This has ensured improved efficiency in service delivery.

There have not been any explicit actions, however, that have indicated direction or priority of the government on health financing, commodities and human resources for health. With the Government’s efforts to curb public spending and increase revenue collection, it is uncertain how much of a priority the sector will be in the 2016/17 FY disbursements. Focus currently appears to be on infrastructural items as opposed to systems, curative and treatment programs, the human resource shortage and accessibility among others.

CSOs have as well looked at the proposed Five Year Development Plan (5YDP) on fostering an industrial economy. The focus under this sector is on MNCH (mothers, newborns and children’s health), human resource and infrastructure, access to medicine and medicaments and insurance schemes. The one year plan discussed in parliament goes further to specify which facilities will get attention in the coming FY, but also reiterates the commitment on MNCH, medicine, human resource and retention packages. Financing, however, is not adequately analyzed and it is unclear how these plans would be resourced.

During the 11th inauguration of the Parliament 2015, the President ordered a decrease in the budget aimed for celebrations and re-directed Tshs. 201 million to buy hospital beds at Muhimbili National Hospital.  
A study on the availability of essential medicines, medical supplies and bed capacity conducted by Sikika in 2013 found that, there are critical bed shortages in public hospitals which led patients to either share beds or sleep on the floor. This situation is unacceptable and we, therefore, commend the President for improving the bed capacity in public hospitals.
CSOs would like to encourage the President to keep promoting the quality of health care services by strengthening the health sector’s budgets efficiency, transparency and accountability of the service providers.

 3. On Education
The year 2016 started on good note to parents whose children are in public schools in the country following the promise and directive by the new government on free education as stipulated in the 2014 education policy. There were complaints from citizens regarding the rising and high costs that parents incur as contributions towards their children’s education in public schools which traditionally have been considered as nominal.
Already the government has clearly made it public that free education has to be provided in public schools starting from this year. In cases where this directive has not been adhered to, we have heard of disciplinary measures by the government. With the increased revenue collection and appropriate allocation of the same, we believe that the commitment by the government to provide free education will be successful.
Our plea to this government is to invest more in the education sector with focus on the development budget starting from the financial year 2016/17. It is by looking at the 2016/17 budget allocation that one can truly see government’s real intention to provide free education as well as to improve the performance of the sector. We need to see at least 30% of the education sector budget being directed to development expenditure from the current 15%. The proposed allocations are meant to help eliminate the current infrastructural challenges and thereby contribute to an improved learning environment.
Further to that, we urge the new government to ensure that the Teachers' Service Commission is in place following its approval by the National Assembly in 2015. It is therefore high time that the government fulfills this requirement as its presence will help in addressing some of the challenges facing teachers in the country.

 4. On Land Rights and Forest Conservation
The new government under President Magufuli has been able to resolve some of the land conflicts and return back land to communities. Examples include Kapunga and Vilima Vitatu in Mbarali and Babati districts, respectively.
There is still a need, however, for the government to change its approach especially when dealing with conflicts between farmers and pastoralists; a need for looking at the broad systemic issues as opposed to a narrow perspective so as to ensure permanent solutions. Land reforms and structure are well in place but more efforts are needed on law enforcement and accountability in land administration and budget allocation for Land Use planning (LUP).   
In this short period under review, we have noted that nothing has been done to show commitment to women’s right to land. There are policies on land and land administration but nothing tangible has been addressed that shows this government’s commitment to women issues especially related to land. The government in its first 100 days has been able to resolve the Kapunga conflict in Mbarali but we are not sure if there are any directives as to how this land will be distributed and if women will be given preference.

    5. On Agriculture
The government has strategically called upon all leaders at all levels to sensitize and mobilize community engagement in agriculture –but clear lines strategically aiming at facilitating rural community and women to engage profitably have not been seen in agriculture neither have we observed government perseverance that is centered on delivery of loans with affordable interest rates to the poor and marginalized.

Moreover, we have not observed effective initiatives and commitments that are focused on the inclusiveness of the poor women and other marginalized groups and neither have we seen insistence on promoting equity agribusiness on land-based investments including awareness creation to empower smallholder farmers and pastoralists on demand shared value.
We acknowledge, however, the President’s tone on agriculture that has mostly been pro-poor but urge the government to ensure that the budget in this sector achieves the target in the Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security of 2003 of allocating at least 10% of the entire national budget towards agriculture.

Conclusion
It is evident that the new government under President Magufuli has shown political will on both the need to increase revenue collection and ensure discipline in the use of public resources, as it is well-known that public service delivery can hardly be improved when emphasis is merely on increased resources without mechanisms in place to guarantee accountability. The first 100 days in power by the new regime has largely shown that it is possible to collect significant domestic resources that can be used to improve lives of the citizens. Good farming practices are only possible when there are appropriate supplies; and the people are healthy with the required skills to undertake modern agriculture on dispute free pieces of land.

Policy Forum Breakfast Debate

Tanzania has been urged to entrench and integrate science, technology and innovation strategies in education, industrial, agricultural, trade and investment policies to enable attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the eradication of extreme poverty for all people by the year 2030.

Speaking the during the Policy Forum breakfast debate entitled: "Ending Poverty by Year 2030: The prospects and challenges" held on the 26th of February 2016, in Dar es Salaam, Dr. Bitrina Diyamett of the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Research Organization (STIPRO) said that to enhance the employment potential of Tanzania to include its poorest, the industrial and agricultural sectors will be crucial, both requiring improvements of the current national research and innovation systems.

“We need to see increased agricultural productivity, while at the same time opening avenues for the non-farm activities in the rural areas, especially in agro-processing while enhancing the marketing of agricultural products and encouraging mineral processing to provide incentives for value addition to minerals rather than raw export and technology and innovation in these are critical,” she said.

Dr. Diyamett cautioned, however, that building innovation capabilities was challenging as it required coordinating policies of very diverse nature, effective governance, continuous follow up and evaluation of the performance of the system and specialised expertise, which the country to a large extent currently lacks.

The second presenter of the debate, Dr. Blandina Kilama of REPOA, an independent Tanzanian research institute, said that in order to end poverty in all its forms everywhere, required was the ability to observe progress or lack of thereof, and this meant that indicators that are traceable at the lowest administrative (personal) level were needed. This included the collection and utilisation of data being beneficial to both the collectors and compilers of the information e.g. Village Registers, Offices of DED, WEO, VEO and SEO.

“In curbing poverty, useful ways need to be thought out to capture everyone including children, women, youth, the vulnerable, time-use by all in the productive sector, while considering the environment and proper governance,” she said.

Dr. Kilama further urged the Statistics Act to enhance quick access to statistics for assessment of performance and ending poverty by 2030 requires frequent and accurate data to inform the progress and areas need attention.

She added that monitoring the SDGs successfully ultimately lies with resource mobilisation, specifically engaging more human and financial resources and encouraged innovations brought about with technologies to simplify and speed up data collection, analysis and reporting.

The government of Tanzania has been advised by stakeholders to integrate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the national planning process and the country’s Five-Year Development Plan II of which the draft is already in place to guide plans.

Speaking the during the Policy Forum breakfast debate entitled “Mainstreaming the Sustainable Development Goals in Tanzania” held on 29th January 2016 at the British Council Auditorium, Posta, Mr Rodgers Dhliwayo, Economics Advisor at United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said the SDGs were developed to fill the gaps that were in the predecessor Millennium Development Goals, such as the lack of governance issues that have now been included in the SDGs.

He mentioned another weakness of the MDGs being the absence of a dedicated institutional mechanism for implementation and that is why for the SDGs, all stakeholders including public representatives, the private sector, civil society, the knowledge community and development partners have been taken onboard, fulfilling the spirit behind the key theme of SDGs which is 'leave no one behind'.

The second presenter of the debate Dr. Gladness Salema from the University of Dar es Salaam emphasized that the budget should be used as a key tool to implement the SDGs to address the challenges of the community like bridging gender gaps among many other issues.

She said gender is at the centre of all SDG goals and should be integrated in the development plans by introducing gender-related strategic objectives into policies and establishing requirements for gender analysis of budgets (gender budgeting) including gender indicators in budget requests and providing statements of impact of budget funds on gender equality.

The discussant of the debate, Grace Banya from UN Women advised that every stakeholder should own these goals because its implementation requires their efforts and investment.

                                                                                           

Honourable Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Hon. Members of Parliament, Chief Medical Officer, Troika Chair, WHO country representative, Development Partners; staff of the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Seniors and Children; PO-RALG, PO-PSM, representatives of the private sector, ladies and gentleman, good morning.
On behalf of more than 100 Civil Society Organizations which are under the umbrella of Policy Forum, Sikika appreciates the opportunity to be one of the speakers in the opening of this policy day for the health sector’s stakeholders in Tanzania.

Honourable Minister, we would like to acknowledge the efforts made by the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Children and Old Persons to engage stakeholders, including CSOs, in the implementation of the recently concluded National Health Strategy Plan III and other initiatives that aim at improving the provision of quality health care services in the country. We commend the development of the new Health Sector Strategic Plan IV, which has the potential of bringing significant improvements to health service provision during the next five years.

We especially applaud the Ministry for its efforts in fighting malaria, which have translated into a significant reduction of malaria morbidity and mortality rates. Also, the significant increase in immunization coverage has contributed to a reduction in child mortality rates.

Honorable Minister, despite those improvements, there are still chronic challenges in the health sector. They persist mainly due to the fact that the health sector’s budget is inadequate compared to the actual needs. According to the new Strategic Plan IV, the required funding for the fiscal year 2015/16 is estimated to be about TZS 4 trillion. However, the approved budget for the health sector is TZS 1.8 trillion, which is less than half of the actual requirement leaving a resource gap of about TZS 2.2 trillion.

Honorable Minister, the share of the health sector of the total government budget has decreased from 12.3 percent in 2010/11 to 8.9 percent in 2013/14, and, in this fiscal year 2015/16, it is at only 8.1 percent. Over the same period, real per capita expenditures declined from $8.4 to $6.5. If this trend continues, it is unlikely that Tanzanians will enjoy Universal Health Coverage in the near future. For that reason, the government needs to reconsider its fiscal priorities. Otherwise, our goal to achieve Universal Health Coverage, as it has been stipulated in the new HSSP-IV and the Health Financing Strategy, will remain a far-fetched dream.

Honorable Minister, we see great opportunities to improve the collection and management of revenues, especially at the health facility level. For instance, as reported in the media at the end of last year, Mbeya Referral Hospital was able to increase collection from TZS 50 million per month to TZS 500 million after introducing an electronic system for the collection of internal revenues. At Tanga Regional Referral Hospital, revenues increased by 270%, at the Muheza designated district hospital, they rose by 45%, and at the Lushoto district hospital, revenues increased by 12% in a period of three years. If all health facilities in the country had an electronic system for internal revenue collection today, how much could they collect by the end of this financial year? And how would their resource management and service quality improve if they were fully accountable to service users and local communities?  

Honorable Minister, the availability of human resources for health determines the quality and reliability of health services.  For many years, the health sector has been facing a health worker shortage which currently stands at around 53 percent. The shortage is becoming more severe due to population growth and an increasing burden of various lifestyle diseases. But how can we improve the utilization of the health workers in rural areas if retention mechanisms at national, district, and facility levels are too weak? And how can our doctors and nurses perform their job if their work environment is in poor condition?

Honorable Minister, the availability of essential medicines, medical supplies and equipment at public health facilities is another stumbling block in the provision of quality health services in the country. There have been frequent stock outs of essential medicines and medical supplies including safe blood in public health facilities. In 2015, Sikika assessed the availability of medical equipment in 9 districts and found that only 43 percent of the dispensaries, 23 percent of the health centers, and 50 percent of the hospitals had adequate medical equipment. These chronic shortages obstruct the provision of quality health services and they are demoralizing health care workers who fail to help patients because the right supplies are not available. How can we ensure that essential medicines and medical supplies are accessible at all levels of the health system?

Honourable Minister, we call for deliberate efforts of your Ministry to strengthen health sector financing, revenue management, and to improve the accessibility of human resources for health and essential medicines and medical supplies. More specifically, we recommend your Ministry to implement the following actions to achieve the goal of Universal Health Coverage.

  1. Devise clear mechanisms and guidelines for the collection, management and utilization of revenues at public health facilities. Good governance principles like citizens’ participation, transparency, and accountability of public servants should be practiced at all levels.
  2.  
  3. Set a per capita spending target for the current HSSP that can and will be progressively achieved over the next 5 years.  Moreover, strengthen the existing health insurance schemes CHF, TIKA and NHIF in preparation of the mandatory health insurance system.
  4.  
  5. Promote an equitable distribution of health workers and sound retention mechanisms at all levels. Increase funding and enrollment at health and social welfare training institutions to reduce the existing shortages. The government should also consider providing loans to mid-cadre level students in both public and private health training institutes.
  6.  
  7. Pursue the target of at least 80 percent stock availability of essential medicines, medical supplies and equipment by the end of 2016. The government should allocate sufficient funding to health facilities, strengthen the procurement and delivery system, and end existing pilferages.

Thank you.
Irenei Kiria, Executive Director of Sikika (on behalf of Policy Forum)

Who are We? Tanzania Tax Justice Coalition is a loose coalition of NGOs interested in tax justice. The group was started in 2013 under Policy Forum. The group comprises of Policy Forum, Action Aid Tanzania, Kepa, Youth Partnership Countrywide (YPC), Tanzania Coalition on Debt and Development (TCDD), Tanzania Trade and Economic Justice Forum (TTEJF), Tanzania Youth Vision Association (TYVA), Governance and Economic Policy Centre, Tanzania Education Network (TenMet) and Norwegian Church Aid (NCA). To read more click here.

Only 30 percent of Tanzanians are covered by health insurance while the rest have to find their own means of treatment whenever they fall sick. This situation is more dreadful for those who are retired without reliable sources of funding.

This was said by Mr. Okumu Salvatory, Compliance and Field Operations Officer at the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) during the Policy Forum breakfast debate held on 27th November, 2015 at the British Council Auditorium.

Mr. Okumu challenged the Community Health Fund Act, 2001 which stipulates that there should be a community fund whereby households pay contributions to finance part of their basic health care services as this has proved to be insufficient. He therefore called upon the Government to compensate health care financing efforts on grounds that it is ineffective.

He highlighted, however, that the Government has already established mechanisms to ensure individual members in the community get access to health care and this has demarcated children, students of secondary and vocational trainings. He also revealed that the NHIF has carried extensive public awareness campaigns in order to advertise its plans.

Through these schemes, it plans to cover over 50 percent of the total population by 2020 and he mentioned community-based schemes like ‘KIKOA’ as an alternative fund which have been introduced as a solution to improve community access to health insurance.

Dr. Dereck Chitama, the discussant of the debate from the School of Public Health and Social Sciences of the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH), said Tanzania has delayed for quite some time in establishing the health insurance facility.

“It is in records that this idea came about in 1962 but its implementation came into being in 2001. |Such a delay has caused a lot of negative impacts to people,” he stated, citing an example of one such consequence as the loss of labour power through pre-mature deaths.

Participants also challenged part IV of the Community Health Fund Act 2001 which implies that Tanzania depends so much on donor fund while it has an abundance of natural resources that could be well utilized in order to solve challenges facing the health sector.

Kindly be informed that Policy Forum Secretariat office will be closed for Christmas and New Year Holiday from 21st  December 2015 to 13th January 2016.

The office will be opened and resume its regular activities and operations on Wednesday 13th January 2016.               

We apologize in advance for any inconvenience that this may cause.                         

We encourage you all to send us any pressing/urgent matters to the PF Secretariat Office by end day tomorrow (Friday evening) by email (info@policyforum.or.tz), phone:  +255 22 2780200

All other matters will be addressed when our office will be re-opened.

We would like to wish a Happy Holiday Season to you all.

edited 25/01/2016

 

 

This  is  another  edition  of  Citizens’ Budget  which explains the  Government  budget  for year 2015/16  in a simplified way.  The  term  Government  budget  means the  annual estimates  of  the  revenues, other  receipts  and  the expenditures  of  the  Government (including  grants  to local  authorities) submitted  for  Parliamentary  approval within  a  given   period.   These   estimates   aim at implementing policy   decisions   made   by Government  to  achieve  a  set  of macroeconomic  objectives.

Budget is more  than  just numbers. It reflects the Government’s policy priorities, and ultimately, is about delivering  better services to people. To read more click here

 

Kindly be informed that Policy Forum offices will be closed for our Annual Retreat from Monday 30th to December 4th (the entire staff will be in Arusha).The office will be opened and resume regular activity and operations on Monday 7th December 2015.We apologize in advance for any inconvenience that this may cause.We encourage you all to send us any pressing/urgent matters to the PF Secretariat Office by email (info@policyforum.or.tz) or +255 782317434 . All other matters will be addressed when our offices re-open on 7th December.

Policy Forum decided to dedicate October’s breakfast debate to the issue of CSO engagement with the newly-elected administration. Titled “What Civil Society Organizations Expect in the New Government?,” the debate on Friday 30th October, 2015 focused on the manifeso that CSOs produced as part of their citizen sensitization programmes.

The 2015 elections marked an interesting time for Tanzanian politics with issues of accountability, transparency and good governance at the forefront of the agenda. As always, the role of Civil Society Organizations in the election process remained crucial and it is for this reason CSOs came together to formulate their own manifesto as guidance to citizens, political parties, government and other stakeholders during the election process of what changes civil society in the country desired to see.

The main presentation was made by Onesmo Olengurumwa, the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders-Coalition National Coordinator

Mr Olengurumwa  began with a background of the concept of the CSO election manifesto stating that it was an outcome of a CSOs meeting that took place in 24/7/2015 aimed at evaluating the position of civil society organizations in democratic process including the 2015 general election.

The main purpose of  the manifesto was to act as a road map and vision for citizens and all political parties participating in the 2015 elections. This included observing principles of free and fair elections and the constitution in the electoral process and putting forward an agenda that represents what CSOs would like to see the next administration prioritize in different sectors over the next five years. 

Moreover, Mr Olengurumwa stressed that CSOs faced many challenges such as the lack of capacity, rivalry between CSOs, lack of sustainable coordination and the constricted civic space affecting their engagement in the democratic process in the country. Despite these, he acknowledged that there are some CSOs in the country that have been at the forefront of agitating for reforms and remained the largest influencers of democracy in Tanzania.

Mr Olengurumwa went on to discuss Chapter 2 of the manifesto which comprehensively describes the CSOs wishes after the 2015 elections and calling on the government to consider them. The main priorities of the manifesto include:  the need for improvements in the rule of law (which centres on everyone including leaders to abide by the law), the importance of the separation of powers that ensures all constitutional organs adhering to their functions and reducing interference, the observation of human rights according to the constitution and the ensuring of  CSO space in the country.

He also pointed out the importance of improving the availability and access to social services, enhancing gender equality, and sustainable economic management.

The discussion that followed championed the idea of a CSO manifesto but emphasized a need to move into a plan of action as to how the manifesto shall be successfully incorporated into government policies and monitored. Discussants also stressed the need for education to enhance citizen engagement because active citizens are an important pre-requisite for an effective state.

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