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Findings of the 2017 survey conducted by the International Budget Partnership (IBP) reveals that Tanzania has scored a lowly 10 out of 100, implying it is a country that provides scant or no information on public budgets. IBP considers countries that score above 60 on the Open Budget Index as providing sufficient budget information to enable the public to engage in budget discussions in an informed manner. Countries scoring above 60 on participation and oversight are deemed as providing adequ ate opportunities for the public to participate in the budget process and providing adequate oversight practices.

Presenting at the morning debate coordinated by Policy Forum (PF) on the theme ‘Open Budget Survey 2017: What is the State of Fiscal Transparency, Participation and Budget Oversight?’, Boniventura Godfrey, the Head of Programs at HakiElimu, explained that the survey gauges three pillars of public budget accountability: transparency, public participation and oversight.

On transparency, the indicators assessed whether the central government makes eight key budget documents (pre-budget statement, executive’s budget proposal, enacted budget, citizens budget, in-year reports, mid-year review, year-end report and audit report) available to the public online in a timely manner and whether these documents present budget information in a comprehensive and useful way.

Explaining the availability of the budget documents to the public, Godfrey claimed that since 2008 Tanzania government has not made enough effort to produce mid-year review and year-end reports. With regards to the citizens budget, the executive budget proposal and in-year reports, in 2017 the government published late, or did not publish online, or produced for internal use only and that has remarkably affected score of budget transparency (10/100). The score is affected by the fact that the survey recognizes budget documents as publicly available if they are published online on the relevant government institution’s website.

As for Public Participation, Tanzania has scored 15 out of 100 which is slightly above the global average which is 12. Godfrey explained that the  public participation indicators measure the degree to which the government provides opportunities for the public to engage in budget processes. Such opportunities should be provided throughout the budget cycle by the executive, the legislature, and the supreme audit institution.

Godfrey elaborated that the aspect of Budget Oversight measured the strength of two oversight institutions which are the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI), in the Tanzania case the Controller and Auditor General (CAG), and the Legislature. The legislature oversight aspect produced a score of 37 out of 100 in 2017 while in 2015 it scored 39 out of 100. Major reasons for the fall includes the legislature committee not examining or publishing reports on in-year implementation, the legislature not being consulted before the government shifts funds and lack of legislative hearings for the public/civil societies to testify.

The oversight by Supreme Audit aspect produced a score of 39 out of 100 in 2017 compared to 50 out of 100 in 2015. Key issues highlighted by the survey includes the fact that head of SAI is not appointed by the legislature, audit processes are not reviewed by an independent agency, lack of formal mechanisms for the public to assist the SAI in formulating its audit program and the lack of space for public to participate in relevant audit investigations.

Godfrey recommended that the government produce and publish online Mid-Year Reports, Year-End Report and In-Year reports in a timely manner. Also, he counseled for the publishing and increasing the comprehensiveness of the Executive’s Budget Proposal. He further stressed that there should be an established accessible mechanism for capturing public perspectives on the budget discourse as well as formal mechanisms for the public to participate in audit investigations.

Discussing the topic Hon. Zitto Kabwe (MP) pointed that “Tanzania’s drop of score from 46 in 2015 to 10 in 2017 is a sign that the executive did not care even under pressure” and that the country faced a serious problem of budget credibility. “The parliament usually passes the budget but the executive has the power to decide what to implement and what not to. For the nation to realize its development potential, the parliament is supposed to approve all major development projects to limit the misuse of public money,” he added.

Hon. Kabwe urged citizens to participate in the meetings held at the grassroots to discuss with local leaders the issues relating to development and not wait for avenues to criticize what is done by the top executives. He also advised PF to seek an opportunity with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Budget to present the findings and recommendations to improve transparency, participation and oversight of the budget.

This video provides an account of work done in 2017 under the network's outcome one which aim to strengthen PF members' capacity to influence and monitor the implementation of policies relating to public resources. Second, it covers the activities carried out with the intention of enhancing state responsiveness to Policy Forum’s advocacy agenda relating to increased domestic resource mobilization and the accountable use of public resources. Third, it outlines the efforts done to improve PF's own institutional effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability including monitoring, evaluation and learning.

 

Tanzania is among the countries that adopted the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and translating the same to its own development initiatives  such as the Development Vision 2025  and the Five Year Development Plan II (2016/17 – 2020/21).

Tanzania implements the SDGs through a number of its government organs including the  Ministry of Finance and Planning (MoFP), The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the Planning Commission, and the President’s Office Regional Administration and Local Government (PO-RALG) and the National Parliament. Civil Society Organisations and the private sector are also involved in attaining the SDGs.

Supporting the agenda, Policy Forum has been engaging with the government institutions such as  the President’s Office Regional Administration and Local Government (PO-RALG) particularly in advocating for transparency, equitable use of public money and an increased Domestic Resource Mob,ilization at both local and national levels.

On March the 12th 2018, Policy Forum in partnership with the Tanzania Sustainable Development Platform (TSDP) which is co-convened by United Nations Association of Tanzania (UNA) and Africa Philanthropic Foundation, conducted a two days training to 20 PO-RALG representatives in Dodoma, on the Implementation and Achievement of Sustainable Development Goals Agenda 2030.

Stephen Chacha from TSDP highlighted on  the CSOs implementation of SDGs, gave a glimpse of the transition from Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) to SDGs and the interrelation and the alignment between FYDP II and SDGs and other macro policies such as Tanzania Development Vision 2025 and MKUKUTA II; one among the objectives of the FYDP II is to ensure global and regional agreements (e.g. Africa Agenda 2063 and SDGs) are adequately mainstreamed into the national development planning and implementation frameworks for the benefit of the country.

Reynald Maeda from UNA stressed on the challenge of Data Coherence between Government Institutions and it is highly important that it is addressed. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) provides the core statistics and data that are critical for the monitoring and evaluation of FYDP II and also has been the principal organ in the national data provision but the data that is produced by the NBS varies from that of Ministry of Finance and Planning and PO-RALG which is the key implementor of FYDP II and SDGs at regional and district level.

However, William Ghumpi from the Poverty Eradication department of the Ministry of Finance and Planning provided an overview of  the Tanzania Baseline Report on the SDGs to be presented at the High Level Political Forum in July 2018 in New York , USA.

Ghumpi accentuated that Tanzania will also continue to mainstream the regional and global development frameworks  at the sector and local levels as we implement our national development, growth and poverty reduction plans and programmes.

Moreover, the Director of the Division of Basic Education (PO-RALG), Paulina Mkwama emphasized that there is a strong linkage between the FYDP II and SDGs and also stressed that the SDGs are being implemented in our day to day activities but there is exertion in identifying what goals are being addressed as she  further stressed on the importance of the training that was conducted by Policy Forum.

To ensure that ‘No one is left behind’, Policy Forum has pledged to work closely with PO-RALG to make sure that information is timely shared between different stakeholders and that it reaches the regional and district level.

Agenda 2030 provides an unheralded opportunity to address the persistent challenges facing the world, including poverty, growing inequalities, and environmental degradation. Through it, world leaders have committed to addressing the economic, social and environmental issues standing in the way of sustainable development. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide an opportunity to build on positive national development and address fundamental challenges in comprehensive and systematic ways.

At the Policy Forum Breakfast Debate held on 23rd February 2018, Reynald Maeda from the United Nations Association of Tanzania made a presentation entitled “Sustainable Development Goals: Does the Government Spending Match Its Commitment?”  where he elaborated that the Tanzanian government has made deliberate efforts to mainstream and integrate Sustainable Development Goals into the prevailing National medium-term development plan.

Maeda highlighted that the SDGs are in alignment with the second national development plan which is a series of the three Five Year Development Plans that will implement the Long-Term Perspective Plan 2011/12-2025/26. Its specific objectives are accelerating economic growth while making sure that quality of growth benefits the majority in the terms of poverty reduction and job creation which is the first SDGs goal.

Maeda further highlighted the SDGs are a broad agenda that reflects a global consensus of high aspirations based on fine political balance and that awareness is required at both national and subnational level.

Nevertheless, Stephen Chacha from African Philanthropic Foundation stressed that localisation process is to not only integrate the SDGs into the National Strategies but also incorporate them with the Local Government Development Plans. The localisation process must be participative and interactive in nature.

He continuously strained that the process should be done by engaging key development actors including CSOs, Philanthropic Organisations , Multi-national stakeholders and institutions.

Silas Olan’g of the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) based in Tanzania questioned the pace of the Sustainable Development Goals implementation as its adaptation lacks clear national targets up to date. He further stressed that implementing SDGs is the responsibility of everybody.

Olan’g also highlighted that, external actors can be very helpful in building the capacity of National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and other Government Institutions in monitoring SDGs. They should support NBS in identifying and addressing the needs and in disaggregating the data by region, gender and age to ensure that “nobody is left behind”.

However, 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.

In addition, external actors must work with local institutions and especially think tanks in identifying and financing research that can help the monitoring process and fill the gaps that cannot be addressed by the national monitoring and evaluation masterplan. This is especially important because of the interlinking nature of the SDG goals and targets. Tanzania must further reflect on how best to monitor such goals and targets.

Although Tanzania is now acknowledged as one of the fastest growing economies in the world, this progress has not translated to major changes in the lives of ordinary Tanzanians. The reasons for this are many but tax incentives, tax evasion and avoidance and illicit capital flows to tax havens have been pinpointed as some of the factors that limit the country from raising adequate funds to improve service delivery. This is in tandem with the trajectory in Africa where it is estimated that many countries, relative to the size of their economies, lose more in corporate tax evasion than countries anywhere else in the world.

At a presentation entitled “Lifting the Veil of Secrecy: International Taxation and Capital Flight from Africa”, delivered by the Lead Professor in Economics from the Mzumbe University, Prof. Honest Prosper Ngowi at the Policy Forum Breakfast Debate held on 26th January 2018, he called for joint efforts from all key stakeholders including the media, civil societies and the international community to raise alarm on the issue. He said that studies show at least 30 per cent of all financial wealth held by Africans was illegally stashed in offshore tax havens across the world.

Commenting on the fight against tax incentives Prof. Ngowi lamented its abuse by beneficiaries. Citing the Controller and Auditor General 2015/16 Report, he said it singled out a case in which no documentation was provided for 4.2million liters of oil transported from Dar es Salaam between October 2014 and December 2015 for use in mines in Buzwagi, Bulyankulu and Geita and cases of the similar nature.

“Tax incentives are actually at the least of investor’s priorities, the top most priority is predictability of the investment environment.” highlighted the director of Natural Resource Governance Institute - Africa (NRGI) Silas Olan’g who was the discussant of the debate.

Furthermore, Olan’g acclaimed the book for highlighting the various loopholes that lead to the loss of revenues and critically stressed that Tanzania suffers severely from the fiscal terms that allow indefinite loss carry forward. He also questioned the silence of the international community and the UN on intense issues such as tax invasions and capital flight.

Prof. Semboja, however, said that tax incentives were beneficial to the government because they are well articulated in the Tanzanian tax laws. He said that among others tax incentives were attracting larger foreign and local investors in the country, who in turn encourage production, employment, and pay revenues to the government, among other benefits.

The Government of the United Republic of Tanzania and other African nations were urged to review their policies on tax incentives because a number of them are being abused and shortchanging the treasury.

 

On tax literacy in Africa, stakeholders considered it low whereby a large proportion of the economic active citizens in Africa, including Tanzania belong to the informal sector, and the technicality of paying taxes is quite complicated and difficult for them to understand.

Prof. Ngowi noted that although revenue administrations in some countries including Rwanda, South Africa and Tanzania have undertaken vigorous taxpayer education interventions, they still had a limited outreach as they have been mainly concentrated in the urban centres.

Natural resource management and conservation in Tanzania can be improved by enhancing people-centred governance by putting in place organisational structures and processes that support community participation. This was said at the breakfast debate hosted by Policy Forum on 24th November, 2017 dedicated on the theme entitled, “People- Centered Land Governance: The solution for protecting the rights of the poor and vulnerable in Tanzania?.”

Mr. Masalu Luhula of the Tanzania Natural Resource Forum (TNRF) highlighted that currently land management processes lacked appropriate consultation and citizen engagements and adequate compensation to the citizens that have been evicted from their lands and that there was abandonment of lands left unused. He further added that “community land has been protected through land use planning but as the government plans it is in our responsibility to empower the community on issues of their rights to protect their land.”

On the issue of reducing land-related conflicts in society, it was suggested that the government should invest in land planning and land set aside for villagers should be used for those intended purposes only. Apart from limiting land conflicts, planned land enables the government to know the amount of land reserved for small, medium and large-scale farming.

Former University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) fellow, Prof Adolf Mascarenhas, pointed that land planning should be supported by sufficient laws, regulations and procedures to protect land once it is set aside for villagers especially form investors who often grab it and makes conflicts inevitable.

Dr. Stephen Nindi of the National Land Use Planning Commission (NLUPC) stressed that a majority of the Tanzanians live in rural areas and their livelihoods depended much on agriculture. This majority, however, does not have reliable infrastructure to enable them to transport their products to urban areas on time. Poor infrastructure has caused inadequate participation of farmers in agriculture activities which risks food insecurity affecting the farmers, the country and the region at large.

The morning debate had a proposition that compensations should directly be paid to the community rather than involving the government as a third party as transaction costs are high. The local authorities should be given a mandate to educate their community and there should be a citizens agreement with the land investors.

       

Article 20 (1) of the Constitution of United Republic of Tanzania stipulates that every person has the freedom to assemble and express views publicly or through associations /organizations. Although the mother law recognizes the right to assemble, there are still some political decisions which infringe the right to assemble peacefully in the country.  This sentiment was expressed during the monthly Breakfast Debate entitled Freedom of Assembly: Supplementing the voice of the citizens to contribute to the evolution of governance held on the 27th October 2017 at British Council Dar es salaam.

Presenting on the topic, Elizabeth Martin Mhagama from Tanzania center of Democracy (TCD) urged political leaders to respect and observe the law because they swore to protect and defend the constitution when they were elected including the right of the public to assemble as an underpinning pillar of democracy and pluralism in the country.

It was also highlighted that the rights of citizens to assemble should not be considered a mere favour that the government grants to its people as to participate in the democratic processes, associate common causes and demand accountability from the leaders they have elected are actions that enable growth of open and inclusive societies.

Non-Government Organizations were also urged to come together and review existing laws that limit freedom of association in Tanzania. It was believed that the move will enable all NGOs to share their views and to develop strategies and actions to protect freedom of assembly as well as freedom of expression.

The discussion ended by participants beseeching the government to realize the importance of enabling people to assemble and urged it to protect this right by providing security during their public convening.

In recent years there have been concerns that authorities in Tanzania have been banning peaceful assembly by political parties and civil society without satisfactory justification. The Breakfast Debate sought to offer space for commentators to discuss the issue and air their concerns regarding the impact of this shrinking political and civic space.

Policy Forum holds the People and Policy Debates on the last Friday of the month to broaden public understanding and debate on a topical policy issue. Issues chosen for the breakfast debates are wide-ranging and speakers are drawn from the public sector, academia, civil society, donor agencies and the private sector, and the talks are open to the public and attended by interested individuals and professionals.

H.E Jeroen Verheul , Ambassador of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Tanzania today paid a courtsey call on Policy Forum to familiarise with the work of the network and to learn more about Civil Society advocacy efforts in Tanzania.

On the right is PF Coordinator Semkae Kilonzo , H.E Jeroen Verheul (Middle) and on the left is Neema Matafu, Embassy of Netherlands Policy Officer for Public Administration and Economic Policies.

 

            People living in extreme poverty hesitate to pay taxes for their development because they think that the government fails to fulfil its responsibility of solving their development challenges. The challenges include poor infrastructure, lack of medical care in the village dispensaries, poor education system and lack of clean water. That is said today in Dodoma by Hon. Mendrad Kigola (MP) during the follow-up meeting of the stop the bleeding campaign coordinated by Policy Forum (PF) in collaboration with Tanzania Tax Justice Coalition (TTJC).

Stop the bleeding campaign was launched in 2016 in Dodoma with the aim of calling for informed actions and political will by the government to put in place interventions that will reduce and eventually stop all acts that contribute to loss of resources from our country.

A number of studies indicate that African countries including Tanzania lose significant amount of revenues every year as a result of harmful tax incentives, illicit financial flows and secrecy in contracts. Some of these studies include;

  • Tax competition in East Africa: A Race to the Bottom?
  • Double Taxation Agreements: Gain or loss to Tanzania?
  • Still Racing towards the Bottom? Corporate tax incentives in East Africa;
  • High Level Panel Report on Illicit Financial Flows commonly known as the Mbeki Report;
  • Reports by Controller and Auditor General and
  • The One Billion Dollar Question

The campaign had the key recommendations to the government which include:

Provision of tax incentives only on the basis of a thorough cost-benefit analysis, including an assessment of the impact on poor people and vulnerable groups. The government should ensure that corporate tax incentives are audited to check that the investment for which an incentive is offered has actually been carried out. Tanzania Revenue Authority capacity should be strengthened to collect taxes through providing financial resources and technical capacity. The government should invest more in other measures such as enabling environments and political stability to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) than giving unnecessary incentives. The government should end harmful tax treaties that limit the ability for Tanzania to raise revenue to fund quality public service delivery.

Presenting achievements made by the government and legislators since 2016, Nicholas Lekule (PF’s Budget and Policy Analyst) said that “Informed discussion in the Parliament on tax incentives including the powers to grant incentives has increased and more MPs are now familiar and conversant with the agenda”. There is also a positive move by the government and decision makers to call for contract transparency in the extractive industries as well as enactment and review of laws governing extractive investments.

Contributing in the discussion Hon. Amb. Adadi Rajabu (MP) advised the government to effectively train officials who are responsible for negotiating extractive contacts because the multination companies know how to avoid paying taxes.

Members agreed that a summary of what has transpired in the meeting should be recorded by Policy Forum and submitted to Hon. Job Ndugai Speaker of the National Assembly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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